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Recently I had occasion to be driving on a back road in Florida. And by back road, I mean a dirt road that extended 17 miles without a house, building, or animal. I know it was 17 miles, because I clocked the distance on the way back.
At the end of this road, and I mean where the road ended - was a cluster of about a dozen houses, mobile homes, and what can only be described as shacks.
Parked in the drive way of one of the houses was a Cable TV truck, and a technician was working at the cable pedestal out front. I was dumb struck. These people who were in the middle of nowhere had cable TV and high speed internet.
By these people, I don’t mean people who live in very modest homes, I mean people who live 17 miles down a dirt road.
I reflected on where I live in Oldham county. My house is less than 150 yards (as measured on Google Earth) from the nearest cable pedestal – and even after 25 years, I cannot get cable TV. I know that hundreds of houses built since I built mine have cable access.
I was told by the cable company for many years that it just was not worth their time to run cable to a few houses so far out in the sticks; (one mile from Highway 42 in Goshen) Within one additional mile of my house are 65 houses that are potential cable customers. But folks really out in the sticks in Florida had cable.
I suspect that this discrepancy is based on how the cable franchise was originally awarded in Oldham County. I imagine that whoever that original cable company was came to Oldham County and said we will run cable where ever we want to, whenever we want to, where it is profitable, and we will pay Oldham County some amount of money for the franchise. Oldham County politicians at that time probably licked their chops and said “Yes sir, anything you want sir – don’t worry about the folks in the sticks, they are unworthy, just give us some money”.
OK, I’m sure they did not phrase it exactly like that. But the effect was the same; probably large areas of Oldham County still without cable and high speed internet, and no requirement that the company provide such access.
Now, most people in the county without access to cable TV that want better TV choices have the option of satellite service from DISH or DIRECT TV. I do, and for many years it was completely satisfactory – actually still is for TV signal.
However, over the past 5 years the emphasis on entertainment has revolved around the internet; downloading entertainment and programing. And once again folks without cable access are out in the cold. Because of lack of cable, we are relegated to ATT provided DSL service; and ATT should be prosecuted for referring to DSL as high speed anything. It is faster than dial up service, but not by much, and depending on where you are on the phone trunk, it may not even be faster than dial up. I have an I Pad with cellular service, and when I want to watch even a short video, I turn off the WiFi and use the cellular to prevent buffering.
I contacted Fiscal Court about what the agreement was with the cable provider. After conversations with several very helpful folks in the County Judges office and the County Clerk’s office, it seems that the franchise agreement has been renewed a couple of times, and goes back to at least the 1980’s, and if available, is buried deep in the bowels of Fiscal Court records. One helpful lady suggested I discuss the issue with my Magistrate. I’m sure my magistrate is aware of the issue since he lives 2 doors from me and doesn’t have cable TV either. One day when I get ambitious, I will go to the courthouse to research the agreement. However, there is no hope changing the agreement, and consequently no hope of high speed internet access in my neighborhood.
It is a shame that some of us in Oldham County have less access to the internet and cable TV than folks at the end of a 17 mile dirt road in Florida, or maybe the shame is that the Fiscal Court of that era wasn’t looking out for all the citizens of Oldham County when they signed the franchise agreement.
Mike DiGiuro may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org