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Columbia County behind the curve on broadband

Dec 05, 2015 12:03 am
John Mason is reporting in the Register-Star the telecommunications consulting firm hired by Columbia County has completed the county's broadband profile and has made a series of recommendations to the county Board of Supervisors. ECC Technologies found that while there is a significant amount of fiber installed in the county, it has not increased broadband coverage overall. Beginning last spring, the Monroe County-based company mapped the broadband infrastructure, conferred with public and private organizations to document broadband issues and needs, and met with service providers. The inventory revealed there are nine service providers in the county, and eight fiber owners. There are 17 cell towers and 10 public safety towers. All fiber is owned by private companies; none is in public hands. The study found the broadband coverage is fragmented, with single providers dominating their geographical sectors. While the western sections of the county have, at a minimum, basic broadband access, competition and diversity of providers is limited. In the central and eastern parts of Columbia County the services provided fall below the FCC's definition of broadband and the environment is behind other gigabit communities being developed in other parts of the country. Overall, the study found a lack of broadband in rural areas. The ECC warned that the county's broadband deficiencies have an acute impact on education, health care and economic development. Read the full story in the Register-Star.