Details revealed regarding meeting on Internet in Charles City
With continuing frustrations mounting from both citizens and county leaders in regard to promise of high-speed Internet service, Charles City supervisor Bill Coada and county administrator Michelle Johnson provided an update as part of the board’s quarterly work session.
Coada and Johnson attended a Nov. 30 meeting with SCS Broadband, the company who is supplying Internet access, and Design 9, the company that constructed towers and the system for SCS Broadband to place equipment on. Coada commented that he wasn’t too happy with Design 9.
“I looked at them and asked them did they design a system that wouldn’t bring Internet to the county,” the chairman said. “I kept asking them over and over and they continued to maneuver around the question.
“Ultimately, they told us that they did,” added Coada, who was visibly frustrated after retelling details of the meeting.
Approximately $67,000 was paid to Design 9 just for design work to create a plan with infrastructure and towers to provide wireless Internet to county citizens. But the company’s designs had several flaws, including the height of towers to assist in providing the signal.
“The towers they constructed were 120 feet tall whereas they would normally be 180 feet tall,” Johnson said.
The county administrator said that while most of the Roxbury businesses have been operating through fiber optic cable since Spring 2016, county citizens have continued to express dismay over the ongoing issue since its inception in Dec. 2014.
Coada said that SCS Broadband has assumed the role of a scapegoat due to their inability to get anything accomplished because of the system that was created by Design 9.
“SCS is doing everything humanly possible,” Coada commented. “They have even taken the added expense of securing space on a commercial tower on Barnetts Road to help.”
Acquiring the space on that tower will allow the Internet signal to travel over Charles City’s landfill, an area that blocked the wireless transmission from tower to tower.
Johnson didn’t make any promises about a timeline, but commented SCS Broadband is working to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.
“They expect to close on the space in the tower in January,” the county administrator said in reference to how soon the company would have access to place equipment on the structure. “We’re hoping to see improvement of service within 90 days.”
Meanwhile, Coada confirmed that at least one person is currently connected through wireless Internet via SCS Broadband.
“I was told that it is marginal right now but I believe that is because the signal is only emitting from one tower,” Coada commented. “Once all the towers are fully functional, service should improve greatly.”
The chairman suggested that the possibility of legal action against Design 9 may be on the horizon.
“I want our county attorney to see if we can get a refund from Design 9,” Coada said as the meeting wrapped up. “We spent $67,000 for a system that doesn’t work.”