Sussex sorely underserved by cable companies

June 16, 2014

The following letter was sent to Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetowm, with a copy submitted to the Cape Gazette for publication.

I would like to ask you to have a look at this website and then to contact the people involveds for more detailed information with a view of either joining Sussex County to their system or setting up something similar in Delaware:

This is a Maryland-based cooperative whose purpose is to provide broadband service to areas outside the cities where no commercial provider is willing to invest. From all reports it is working out very well, much better, I must say, than my own experience in the 13 years that I have lived here in Georgetown, The only bright spot, and that was when I still had dial-up, was in Dover, who run a superb internet business, unfortunately without actual user connection services.

Our data communications, including both cable television and internet services, are truly terrible throughout most of the southern two thirds of the state, sufficiently so that it is entirely likely that we might look UP to several third-world countries for inspiration.

It does not help (non-partisan statement here) that in almost every way Sussex County appears to be governed by the last remaining tribe of Neanderthals. Modern infrastructure means real opportunities for employment because it encourages manufacturers and high-tech industries to locate here. Those jobs are far better for us that the resort business, where our youth can look forward to becoming chambermaids, cooks, waiters and T-shirt vendors at best. At the heart of modern infrastructure requirements is high speed data communication, even for home use, and we simply do not have it.

After a number of years of frustration with Comcast's cable TV service, I "fired" them in favour of my own free-to-air satellite dish and a UHF antenna to receive local stations. I find this almost sufficient for my viewing needs. Soon that will be augmented by a very high gain mast-mounted antenna and rotor which should allow me to receive D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and Atlantic City. As a result I do not need cable of any sort to the house.

As the holder for over 30 years of a FCC First and later General Class Radiotelephone License with Ship Radar endorsement, and having designed antennas and filters for two-way radio and FM broadcast use, I am perhaps more experienced than most of your constituents. But I am amazed that people actually spend what they do for the utter garbage that makes up 99 percent of cable providers' offerings when my total investment in over-the-air and satellite receiving systems will total perhaps $1,200, or less than a year's cable bill.

Internet connectivity is another problem, though. We are stuck with only a few choices, i.e., Mediacom, Comcast and Verizon and none of them is particularly good or reasonable in price. Verizon has decided that running a communications company is less fun than running an entertainment company so they have spun off their DSL service to MCI Communications, with disastrous results to speed and reliability. Also, they have virtually stopped installing FIOS except in "cherry picked" markets.

Worse yet, even if you are lucky enough to be in an area served by FIOS, once you actually go to FIOS, Verizon will not let you switch back to wired service if you find it unsatisfactory! And - here's the rub - their fiber optic system is not covered by the same laws and regulations as their wire lines!

They do not have to allow others to use their optical cables as they must share their wires with competing telephone carriers so you are, in effect, their captive and at their mercy.

We need good broadband in southern Delaware, and with the current short-sighted attitudes of commercial providers, I suspect that the only way that we will ever achieve it is to do it ourselves, building a system owned by and for the benefit of our own citizens,

Edward Lukacs

  • A letter to the editor expresses a reader's opinion and, as such, is not reflective of the editorial opinions of this newspaper.

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