PEPA Broadband Internet Service is Essential for the Future of Pontotoc County

As the Pontotoc Progress reported recently, due to legislation passed in Mississippi last year, electric cooperatives can now offer broadband internet service to their customers. The latest Today in Mississippi magazine sent to all PEPA customers has a cover page that is a broadband internet survey for customers to fill out and return in the self-addressed, postage paid envelope provided.

In order to complete their second feasibility study, PEPA must have these surveys back by March 1st. As of Tuesday, Feb. 4, PEPA had received over 700 surveys, but in order to consider moving ahead with broadband service, the association must have over 6,000 positive responses! PEPA is hesitant to move forward with the $44.28 million investment (latest estimate from FiberRise) to offer high speed, broadband internet service to their customers, unless they see a huge show of interest and support.

You may have internet via cellular service, satellite, cable or DSL. Despite what the providers of these services advertise, they all have inherent drawbacks that are not realized with optical fiber broadband internet service. Optical fiber allows higher bandwidth than these services, and heavy usage on cell towers, satellites and cable, will create demand slowdowns that fiber optic broadband does not experience. You may already be familiar with “prime time” slowdown of your present service.

Using my own household as an example, if we wanted to be a “modern” internet household, where we could stream Netflix, Skype with family, take classes online, talk to an online doctor about a medical issue, or transfer large files such as videos of important events, on any and all of our devices, recommends a service with at least 52mbps (megabits per second).

Our home currently gets internet through a nationwide telecommunications provider’s cellular service, and using their internet speed test tool, our average download speed is 1.01 mbps, and our average upload speed is 0.3 mbps. To get internet on devices other than our cellphones, we “tether” to our cellphones as mobile “hotspots”, and though we pay a premium for unlimited data, if our “hotspot” usage goes over 15GB, our provider slows our tethering data rate for the remainder of the billing cycle.

We use this same provider for our home phone service, and soon after we moved into our home, I inquired how long it would be before we got DSL service (Direct Subscriber Line via phone lines, typically around 6 Mbps), and the technical support representative told me six to eight months. That was over 25 years ago! Your internet situation may be like ours or different from ours, but many of you are probably like us; paying too much for low speeds and poor service.

PEPA’s FiberRise study suggested offering service packages for 300 MBPS (megabits per second) upload and download, for $49.95/month, and 1 GBPS (gigabits per second) up & down for $79.95/month. There would be no data limits, no hidden fees, no installation charges and no contracts. They even mentioned offering VoIP telephone service (Voice over Internet Protocol) at $33.95/month, and possibly internet television service as well.

Look at the internet service you have, versus what you could have, and then PLEASE complete your survey. If you no longer have your copy of the survey, they are available at the PEPA office located at 12 South Main Street, in Pontotoc, and their offices are open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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