Broadband project underway

Published 5:01 pm Thursday, April 28, 2016

Efforts to bring broadband Internet service to families in Charlotte County are underway.

Households in the Bacon and Phenix areas are expected to launch the project in the upcoming weeks. “In an exciting turn of events, this broadband project is applicable to all students in Charlotte County and not just economically disadvantaged families as originally thought,” said Superintendent of Charlotte County Schools Nancy Leonard.

“The project will start at Bacon and Phenix first and then will progress to include Eureka, middle school and high school. The project will take some time to implement, but first MBC (Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation) and Microsoft need to survey interest from the parents.”

She said the expansion of the project would span the next few months.

An informational letter and survey was sent home with students recently explaining the TV White Space pilot program for Charlotte County and how broadband could be accessed by families with a WiFi-enabled device within the home.

“This pilot program provides free high-speed Internet to the homes of Charlotte County students who reside in Charlotte County, so that students will be able to access educational programs through this Internet service at no cost to the family,” Leonard said.

The informational letter stated that, in the future, service options for regular Internet service are planned. However, at this time the project will provide unlimited use of free educational content to families with a child in the local school system.

Interested families will be required to install the proper equipment at the home to receive the service.

“MBC, or their subcontractors, will professionally install equipment at the home to receive high speed wireless TVWS (TV white space) transmission from nearby towers to bring broadband access into the home,” the letter stated.

According to the letter, minor installation adjustments may need to be made at the home in order to properly attach the equipment much like cable or satellite or telephone companies would provide.

The equipment will still be property of MBC, the letter stated.

In November, Alfredo Echeverria, director of business development for MBC, said that eight sites would eventually be built in the county.

The letter stated that the project is currently in the testing phase and devices would be issued to household in the Phenix and Bacon school districts in the upcoming weeks.

According to the letter, it will be the largest strategic use of TV White Space in the United States to access educational content at home for all students.