Brown County has joined Nashville as a certified broadband-ready community in hopes of sending a strong message about the community’s commitment to expanding internet access.
Brown County Redevelopment Commission President Dave Redding said he hopes that message is received by service providers and potential residents who need the internet for business.
Rodney Margison, general manager at Mainstream Fiber Networks, said a broadband-ready designation can be encouraging to companies as they decide how to invest.
“I think it’s got people talking,” Margison said. “Anytime people start talking, that starts the ball rolling towards making progress.”
Getting the designation required the county council and commissioners to pass resolutions about ways in which the county will either assist or not interfere with the expansion of broadband internet — like creating a single point of contact to work with companies on permits and promising not to discriminate among providers in permissions granted or fees imposed.
Last July, Nashville became the first broadband-ready community in the state.
Town Manager/Economic Development Director Scott Rudd said he saw an immediate response. Service providers began contacting him to find out what Nashville needed and if there were ways they could help the town get there, and those talks continue.
Gnaw Bone-based Mainstream has been encouraging residents to take a survey so the company can see where expansion is most wanted.“We want to help Brown County get as much Internet coverage as possible,” Margison said.
Through the company’s website, msfiber.servicezones.net/brown, residents can fill out a survey to get a better read on what areas are best for expansion.
Currently, Mainstream is running a competition to determine which neighborhood will see the first expansion of service, Margison said. The top three are Lanam Ridge, Morrison Road and Timbercrest/Salt Creek.
At the end of May, Lanam Ridge was approaching 50 percent of the threshold needed to receive service, Margison said.
Once interest in a particular area reaches the point where it makes financial sense for the company, Mainstream will approach those who filled out surveys to see if they are willing to commit to a contract, Margison said.
Once enough subscribers are signed up, the company will begin work on expansion.
In partnership with national nonprofit EveryoneOn, AT&T is offering discounted internet access to households with at least one member enrolled in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.Availability varies by area, but the two price tiers are $5 per month for 3Mbps and $10 for 10Mbps and 5Mbps, depending on which is available in that area, according to an AT&T news release.
The company has committed to providing the $5 and $10 prices through April 2020.
While the customer is responsible for taxes, there are no charges for equipment or installation.
There is a data limit, however. The 3Mbps tier is limited to 150 GB of data per month. The 5Mbps and 10MBps are limited to 300 GB and 600 GB, respectively.
One hour of normal streaming media takes about 1 GB of data. High definition video takes about 3 GB per hour.
Once the limit is exceeded, customers will be charged $10 for the first additional 50GB of data, and $10 each time they exceed 50GB.
Residents can check into the program at everyoneon.org.