Week at the Lake?

UPDATE – 5/10/2018

From: Joshua Strickland

I wanted to give you an update on our Woodland Progress.  We have everything ready to go up the tower and had it scheduled for last week.  Unfortunately a protected species of bird has built a nest on the tower with baby birds in it.  We have to wait till they leave in order to climb and hang our equipment.

We believe this delay could be anywhere from 2-4 months on average based on outside feedback.

Story by Peter Berry

As a small business owner, I am well aware of the need for high-speed Internet service. At Hyco Lake and Mayo Lake our options are limited to say the least! All too often I have heard my friends at the lake lament over the lack of Internet access, “if I had reliable Internet then I could stay for a week instead of just the weekend!”
This issue is not limited to lakefront homes. Most of our area is rural and right now our options are limited, but there is hope!

Without naming names I’ll give you a rundown of your high-speed internet options. DSL is in antiquated service available through the pair of copper telephone lines leading to your house either buried in the ground or hanging from the power poles. In rural areas you are limited to 6 megabits per second. For comparison, the cable companies in the RTP area, Burlington, Elon, etc. offer upwards of 100-megabit speeds. If you are poorly served, like we are, then DSL speeds are limited to 3 megabits. And on the weekends during the summer forget trying to check your email. In fact, if you want to be a new subscriber to the DSL service, your chances are as good as me being able to check the weather forecast online on a Saturday in July! According to the providers of the DSL service, my area is in a state known as “Bandwidth Exhausted.”

The other option is to use a satellite Internet service provider. Be careful! If you run over the data limit then speeds will be throttled back to lower then the snail’s pace of DSL, if that is even possible 😉 To be honest, satellite Internet service does have its place. Just don’t try to stream movies or have a teenager visit for the weekend, much less living at your house. Also it generally won’t support real-time applications or VPNs required for some remote work arrangements.

A few months ago, I got really excited when I saw a cable company truck driving around the lake. My hopes were dashed after a long wait on hold. Apparently, the cable company cannot provide service in Caswell County. That area belongs to another cable provider. So, I called them only to find that they NEVER intend to provide service in this rural area. And to those of you at Hyco Lake in Person County, don’t get too excited about having cable anytime soon. They apparently are rolling out to only limited parts of the lake.

So, not much has changed for rural areas when it comes to true access to high-speed Internet service. But there is new hope on the horizon!

Person County Government has been working with the state government to put up four tall towers at strategic locations. In addition to public safety communications, attached to these towers will be equipment to hopefully bring many of us much desired true high-speed Internet reaching speeds upwards of 50 Mbps; that is technical speak for 50 million bits per second.

At this point there are no guarantees that this new wireless Internet service will be available to everyone, but it is a step in the right direction. By the time this article goes to print, the second tower is expected to have moved into testing phase with the first in the Mt Tirzah area having gone fully operational back in February.

For more information and technical details visit www.lightleap.net or check their Facebook page (@lightleap). If you don’t land within their Phase 1 Service area don’t fret because there is a phase two that will strategically place repeaters where there is enough demand so be sure they know you need better service by filling out their online survey (or call their Local Authorized Retailer (Radio Shack) in Roxboro. The demand aggregation survey is at http://ncw.servicezones.net (password: lightleap).