I wrote a letter published on June 4 regarding the lack of broadband infrastructure item in Sussex County’s 2021 budget.
In response, Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson informed me that there is “$750,000 in the FY 2021 Budget for IT Infrastructure” and it is exclusively dedicated to broadband expansion. He said this is in addition to the $510,000 from the 2020 budget the County just spent on a fiber ring in Georgetown and funds for partnerships with wireless providers. This tells me the County recognizes the necessity of broadband expansion.
Mr. Lawson also told me that, despite numerous efforts to expand broadband throughout the County and millions of dollars budgeted in the past few years, the County has spent very little of the funding because there is not an easy, cost-efficient solution to this problem of providing broadband in rural Sussex County. He said that spending millions of dollars aimlessly searching for a solution that does not guarantee results would have been a waste of taxpayers’ money, which I agree.
I am glad this conversation is happening, because the public needs to hear and appreciate what the County has been doing.
Since my last letter, I have also learned that providing high-speed internet in the rural areas is very costly because of the high initial investment to serve a small number of clients, and few companies have been willing to make this investment. One of these companies is Bloosurf.
Yet getting high speed internet in rural Sussex County beyond Georgetown is essential for education, economic and healthcare purposes. So, then the question is, “How do we bring in high-speed internet into the rural areas?”
Further reading on this subject led me to satellite internet, which may provide answers for the rural areas but at a high cost. This fast-advancing technology is becoming available, and hopefully, at lower costs. Satellite internet is not as speedy as cable-based internet and has its own restrictions, but the recovery after natural disasters that disrupt the cables, such as hurricanes or earthquakes, is supposed to be fast.
I maintain the need for us to keep the conversation of broadband in rural Sussex going, to search for and, hopefully, to adopt optimal solutions when available.