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Countywide Broadband Rollout Continues
Posted on: 10/11/2013
By  Jamey Styer, Mike Cullums
 
One tower, pole or silo at a time, countywide broadband deployment continues.
 
The Washington County Commissioners met yesterday with Eric Mostrom of Smart Networks – the company installing wireless Internet service throughout the county.  The Commissioners voted to allocate the balance of a $100,000 digital infrastructure grant to the firm in order to continue placing broadcast equipment on Ohio MARCS towers and other high-point sites throughout the county.

Mostrom says the firm expected most people to buy their less expensive packages, but they've been surprised.
 
“The demand is unreal for the high-speed packages out there. We assumed people would take the $29 package. They are not,” he states. "They’re taking as much as they can get.”
 
We asked Mostrom about how many customers they anticipate once the network is up and running. He says the demand is incredible because so many smaller communities remain stuck with 1990's dial-up service.
 
“In Newport alone, there’s 400-some homes right there, that all they could get was dial-up,” Mostrom says, adding that New Matamoras and Cutler are among other communities anxiously awaiting the arrival of broadband.

The funds allocated to Smart Networks yesterday were the remainder of a grant previously awarded to the county via ConnectOhio to improve broadband service to rural areas. Mostrom says these funds, along with revenue generated from new customers, should allow the firm to finish building and then maintain the network.  
 
“As the revenue is generated this will allow us to put up what we call the ‘hollow towers’ to reach people in the hollows,” he explains. “It’ll also let us do some marketing into areas where there is competition.”
 
For example, in addition to Marietta, Belpre and Beverly, the signals reach (or will reach) into Parkersburg, Vienna, Williamstown and Saint Marys.  
 
Some of the grant funding was first allocated to Washington-Morgan Community Action for low-income residents to attend computer classes, then receive financial help with a computer and modem. But response to the program was virtually non-existent, so the Commissioners have redirected the funds to buy modems for lower-income residents who apply. Contact Community Action at 373-3745 for more on that.  
 
If you'd like more information on Smart Networks and its ongoing project to bring high-speed Internet service to all of Washington County and beyond, go to gosmartnetworks.com or call toll-free 1-888-546-4359.  
 
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