JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A struggle with internet access in rural Mississippi isn’t a new topic. But Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley was recently made aware of a roadblock many are facing as they search for access.
“People are being told they need to pay tens of thousands of dollars if they want internet service to their house,” said Presley. “Once that’s paid, what happens when other consumers connect to that line?”
Presley says at least one Mississippian has contacted him to say they paid $7,000 to get that internet access. Presley says it’s not just one cable or telecom company with these business models.
“People are being asked to absorb all the risks upfront, pay all the money up front in hopes of ever getting service. And to use an old country phrase... that dog won’t hunt.”
One example was sent to Presle by a Pontotoc County resident. The family says they’re currently using a hot spot in the home. When they inquired about getting Comcast they were quoted a construction cost of $257,638 dollars to make their address serviceable.
They said that would involve more than 5 miles of underground cable and more than a mile of aerial cable. We asked Comcast about the quote and if it was standard.
“I can say that $257,000 is not a typical quote that we would provide a customer to bring service to their neighborhood,” said Alex Horwitz, Vice President of Public Relations for Comcast. “Since this individual does not reside near our service area, the construction needed would have required a very extensive and lengthy buildout. Often times, in rural areas that are far away from our network, the costs could be higher depending on the amount of construction needed. We generally try to work with homeowners and their neighbors to coordinate a buildout, so that the costs are more evenly distributed. That said, we do not charge customers anything above and beyond the actual cost of construction. Comcast is always looking for ways to expand to new customers in Mississippi.”
Commissioner Presley notes that he understands there are costs involved but makes this note.
“This is one of the biggest roadblocks that’s out there because people cannot afford to pay that upfront,” Presley explained. “We’ve got to have a system by which Mississippians are able to get broadband access, pay a monthly fee and we have to have a goal of getting it to every home in the state.”
The family didn’t pursue the service after receiving the quote.