By Lyn Widmyer
The standard for judging fuel efficiency in cars is miles per gallon of gas. The standard for judging service levels in broadband is megabits per second (mbps).
The Federal Communications Commission suggests 4 mbps as the minimum download standard for high speed broadband. This year the West Virginia Legislature endorsed FCC guidelines for the state. That means 4.0 mbps is the minimum recommended download requirement for high speed internet (the emphasis being on high speed) in our state.
I randomly test the download speed at my home office outside Charles Town. Speeds range from 1.15 to 2.49 mbps. Our latest bill from Frontier Communications includes a monthly charge of $35.99 for high speed internet and $6.99 for a high speed gateway modem.
This is like paying a lot of money for an energy efficient hybrid car on the manufacture's promise of 40 miles per gallon and then finding out the real fuel consumption is 10 mpg.
The key providers of broadband in Jefferson County are Comcast and Frontier Communications. Comcast provides service to a limited portion of the county so most of us rely on Frontier. In my case, Frontier delivers broadband service over old telephone copper wire rather than fiber optic cable.
The County Commission recently asked for public comments on broadband service and over three dozen people showed up. Most had comments and questions directed at Frontier Communications, complaining about slow speeds, and many said it was affecting their businesses.