DeSoto County residents struggle to get high speed internet

(WMC-TV) - In DeSoto County, residents have a need for speed when it comes to internet bandwidth.

Downloads fly by for Mary Monteith at her Southaven office.

"Internet at the office is excellent, it's high speed," she said.

But it's different story when she gets to her home in rural DeSoto County.

"My daughter lives in Los Angeles, and we would love to Skype but we can't because we don't have the internet."

DeSoto County Supervisor Lee Caldwell says nearly 40 percent of the area in the county is in a bandwidth bind, affecting more than 12,000 people.

"The challenge is supply and demand if you had the number of people out there customers then it would be affordable for them to come to you," Caldwell said.

Monteith has tried everything, but it's not cost effective for service providers to expand; and it's impacting her family. Her son was going to come back home from college this summer.

"He wanted to take some online classes this summer and was going to come home but he couldn't come home because we don't have the internet," Monteith said.

People in communities like Walls, Lewisburg, and other unincorporated areas are the ones missing out.

The schools have high speed internet, but when the kids get home, they're hampered from doing schoolwork by the slow speeds.

"We live in an informational highway and our students do not have internet service many of them in the rural areas do not have internet service"

Providers say it is all about cost. Monteith asked a provider how much it would be to get the fiber lines.

"I was like $60,000 in fiber away from the nearest Comcast providers," Monteith said.

That's why Caldwell is asking residents to speak up about their speed.

"We're trying to compile this information so we can go back to our providers and say these are the areas of need," Caldwell said.

Caldwell says they are also looking into applying for rural grants that may help with the problem. She says they may eventually inquire about developers and construction crews helping lay down the fiber lines when they do other work, like the I-69 corridor.

In the meantime, supervisors are going door to door to ask folks about their internet. Caldwell is hopeful that volunteers will be able to ask neighbors about their internet needs.

Caldwell is encouraging folks to report their issues at a phone number they have set up. You can call (662) 429-1460.

There will also be a public meeting in Nesbit on Thursday at the central maintenance center at 6:30 p.m.

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