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Slow Progress Being Made in Countywide Broadband Network Project
Posted on: 04/09/2013
By  Mike Cullums
 
Work continues on the roll-out of high-speed wireless broadband service throughout Washington County. The county commissioners searched for months to find a company willing to deploy broadband service to significant portions of rural Washington County that are still “in dial-up.” Smart Networks won the contract.
 
WMOA News caught up recently with Chad Henson, Chief Operating Officer of Smart Networks... 

“Right now, we’re servicing the greater Marietta area, and we’re getting ready to service Lowell sometime here in April.  We’re looking for different land owners in the Lowell and Beverly-Waterford and Watertown areas to place small towers to extend our service as well.  We’re also looking at options to roll out a network in Newport as well as New Matamoras.”
 
Primarily, Smart Networks have access to ten state-owned MARCS (Multi-Agency Radio and Communications System) towers to place their transmitters, but Henson says they still need smaller towers or other structures in various locations around the county, to fill in the coverage.  Henson admits there have been some challenges…
 
“Some of the bigger challenges are due to the terrain of Washington County and getting our connections from other providers to our equipment so we can broadcast a signal.  We can get our equipment in areas much faster than we can get a connection to our equipment. That’s been probably the biggest challenge.”
 
Those terrain issues are illustrated by the fact that the state had to erect eight towers in Washington County - far more than any other county - not just because of the county's  54-mile width, but due to the presence of four river valleys (Ohio, Muskingum, Little Muskingum, Duck Creek), very hilly terrain in the eastern end of the county and some deep ravines in the western end.
 
Smart Networks took a very aggressive timeline to complete the majority of the project by the end of this year.  But, as they’ve encountered different challenges, they’ve had to revise that timeline, says Hanson…
 
“With all the issues we’ve had, we’re definitely extending into 2014 in getting the majority of cities and towns throughout Washington County.  As far as when that will be done, it could be as late as the end of 2014.  It depends on all the variables – the connections, and the weather has been a real bad issue this year too, especially in the winter months.  But, we’re looking to get that done by the end of 2014.”
 
Henson says he encourages anyone who has questions to call their office at 740-236-1673 or visit Smart Networks' website.
 
Interview conducted by Andy Rex
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