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Improved Internet service needed to keep Franklin County industrially competitive

Published 5:44pm Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A significant part of the mission of the Franklin County Economic Development Authority is to work with state and local government and service companies to provide all the needed resources for industries to succeed.

Broadband, or high-speed access to the Internet, is as vital a resource as highways, electricity, natural gas, water and sewer and available buildings and land.

Private companies provide most of the broadband in our country. Like most smart businesses, they are committed to receiving a return on their investment. For years, we have encouraged communications service providers to extend the reach of their networks into our communities, business districts and industrial parks to provide the connectivity needed by existing and prospective employers.

Likewise, the employees that work at these businesses also want the same experience in our homes as we live, work and play.

In March 2010, the Federal Communications Commission officially released the National Broadband Plan with the ambitious goal of ensuring every American has access to broadband capability. We have made some progress towards the FCC’s goal in Franklin County, but too many citizens and businesses still lack high-speed Internet access.

Recently an AT&T representative visited with me to talk about their plans to merge with T-Mobile. We talked about some exciting developments in wireless broadband – primarily with a technology called LTE or Long Term Evolution.

You may have seen ads on television depicting the major wireless carriers’ moves to newer and faster ways of delivering the mobile Internet. Like the rest of the country – we want – and need – LTE in Franklin County. Ideally, we would like to have several providers of LTE service competing for our business.

What is LTE?

It is the next generation of wireless service, which will begin to approach and surpass the broadband speeds that the more fortunate residents of Franklin County receive if they get DSL service from their phone company or cable modem service. From the reports that I have seen, the speeds are impressive and carriers say it is not only faster but also more stable and has a wider range.

Most importantly, LTE will be cost-effective to deploy in rural areas due to the lack of infrastructure necessary to provide traditional broadband (meaning no lines to run to your home or business).

Because AT&T currently provides the best coverage to just about all areas in Franklin County, I am supportive of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger because it will be a step forward in providing broadband and better connectivity in Franklin County. We will continue working with all providers to realize our own Franklin County Broadband Plan.

Mitch Mays, Executive Director, Franklin County Economic Development Authority

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