Residents in Isle of Wright County were surveyed recently regarding the quality of cable services in the area. More than 1,000 county residents responded to the survey and voiced their concerns regarding the price, picture quality, and service received from Charter Communications. But for county residents who live in more rural areas, the concerns were even more pressing.
Phillip Bradshaw is a member of the Wright County board of supervisors and is a representative of the Carrsville District. Bradshaw said the problem is residents in the area where he lives and represents are simply unable to obtain the cable and internet services they need. He says the dialog has been ongoing for years with Charter Communications about bringing services to the area but the company feels the population there does not justify the expansion.
Charter requires a minimum of 30 homes per square mile before they serve a particular area. There are large portions of the Carrsville District, as well as, other areas of the county that do not meet this requirement.
Bradshaw says he wants to see all the members of his district have access to high-speed internet. The only way this is possible for some residents of the district now is to pay for expensive satellite service or purchase wireless broadband cards.
Bradshaw says many families in the area are unable to afford the added costs of these premium services. He feels that elderly residents and families with small children are affected the most by this situation. He asks that people remain mindful that their plight is about much more than missing out on entertainment. Seniors are losing out on valuable alerts and information that might come their way over the television or internet. While school-aged children suffer from not having the internet available to support their educational development.
A group of representatives from Wright County visited the small town of Wilson, North Carolina to see first-hand how officials there handled a similar problem. In Wilson, a fiber-optic network was used to provide residents with high-speed internet and cable services. County officials are also considering loan and grant options that will provide residents with the services they need.
Bradshaw says he and other officials in the county have high expectations for the services their residents will eventually enjoy. He says all options are being considered and county officials are making it a point not to make a decision out of desperation and end up with a service that is inadequate for the needs of affected communities.
Bradshaw says the new round of negotiations with Charter comes at a time when their current contract with the county is set to expire. He says there are hopes Charter will agree to make an exception to their thirty homes per square mile standard and extend services to the areas in the county that do not presently possess them. As of yet, other companies have not seemed very open to doing business in the area.
Michael Johnson is the county administrator for Southampton. He says that residents in rural areas often complain about internet and cable access. Johnson says he has not personally received many complaints from residents in his county who are not at this time receiving these services. However, Johnson expresses sympathy for the residents of his county without cable and internet services and says it is main intent of his to find a solution to this problem.
Charter Communications is the current phone and internet provider for thousands of homes in Southampton County and is the main provider of services in the Isle of Wright, Suffolk, and Franklin areas.
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