Letter to EMEPA CEO Randy Carroll

In the April 2020 Today in Mississippi magazine from our local rural electric cooperative, CEO Randy Carroll of East Mississipi Electric Power Association requested feedback from customers regarding their entry into the broadband internet arena. Except in our area, it’s less an arena than an empty park with outfield placards from the usual telcom suspects.

What they propose is the construction within their service area of a dedicated fiber optic network…the ultimate in internet access for their rural customers. The advent of gigabit internet speed will be a major game changer, positively impacting our lives in many ways from opening up better choices in television and telephone service, much improved and expansive online learning, expanded opportunities to work from home, higher quality gaming, media, shopping, and browsing experiences; more reliable emergency communications, a more business friendly environment, etc.

The email address is provided in the magazine; I won’t reprint it here due to online spam abuse, but I’ll attach a link to the article when it becomes available online). To all EMEPA customers and everyone living in east central Mississippi counties of Winston, Kemper, Lauderdale, and Clarke: please take a moment to write a note to Randy in support of their proposed networking deployment.

Mr. Randy Carroll:

Thank you for your call for support in the rural broadband effort. For far too long it has felt like no one cares about our need for improved and more modern internet access.

I wholeheartedly support and recommend the proposed endeavor by the East Mississippi Electric Power Associationn on the behalf of its membership to install fiber-optic infrastructure for the delivery of high-speed internet service to the areas currently covered under the cooperative’s electric power system. Existing avenues for online access in my area are paltry at best and nonexistent at worst. DSL service is no better than it was when introduced over 10 years ago (if as good) and is less available to new subscribers due to the inability or unwillingness of the responsible telecommunication companies to scale up capacity or through-put. Fixed wireless is dependent on nearness to cell towers, which are far too sparse for reliable cell coverage, let alone millimeter wave transmission. Satellite internet is fundamentally flawed as a delivery medium due to latency and bandwidth issues on top of exorbitant cost. And forget cable-based internet in the rural landscape.

Speaking personally, my current service (AT&T FastAccess DSL) is rated for 1.5Mbps download speed but has never measured higher than 1.1Mbps…typically it’s much lower. That’s when it works…it routinely drops out for anywhere between a few seconds to a few hours. Neighbors living down the road have even less bandwidth and stability. And I’m fortunate in that I signed up for this when it was first introduced; anyone who came in late to the game will not be able to subscribe to it at all. And what I have now has not been eligible for upgrade since it was introduced around a dozen years ago. For perspective, I had better quality–higher speed and more reliable–access to the internet as a Mississippi State University student while living in the dormitories during the *1990s*.

Furthermore, I have no cellular reception inside my home, and a cellular signal booster would be ineffective due to the very weak signal outside my home. Any use of my cellular telephone has to be made using the DSL line…marginal, at best. Traditional telephone landlines have been rumored to be on the telcom’s chopping block for years, and given their tendency to fail during torrential rain and power outages (only recently having been addressed), having a stable, quality means of communication is all the more important. As an on-call biomedical service engineer at a local medical center, it is imperative that I maintain contact for the sake of my own employment as well as hospital patient safety.

The fact that telecommunications companies benefit from grants under color of making improvements is appalling and infuriating when all they’re doing is barely maintaining the pathetic status quo. There has to be another approach than throwing more tax-payer money at conglomerates who apparently do nothing but ask for more. I believe EMEPA can effectively and decisively address this urgent need that has gone ignored and unheralded for so long.

I will pledge to be a charter member of this new effort if necessary and possible, and I will notify my family, friends, and neighbors of the need for their active involvement. I hereby give permission to reprint this email for promotional purposes and its retransmission to any local, state or national representatives in the course of securing support and funding.

Thank you,

Scott Wiggins
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This on-again, off-again, would-be commentator proves that attitudes are contagious, and that some can even kill. To this end, every written word is weighed carefully to ensure the precise delivery of the author's intent while inflicting blunt force trauma to the psyche of the reader.

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