Charter begins building Internet infrastructure in Farmersville before developing in Exeter

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By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN

FARMERSVILLE – Charter is planning big things for Internet in Tulare County according to Farmersville city manager John Jansons. Late last month the Sun-Gazette reported that Charter Communications was improving their Internet capabilities to cover the footprint of the city. But plans to bring Internet to the east side of Tulare County started long before July.

Jansons said that the City of Farmersville met with Charter on April 12 to talk about how they were gearing up for improved Internet but the plan was not ripe enough to present to the City Council. They are still waiting for a corporate presentation from Charter, something that councilman Greg Gomez would welcome since he has been an advocate for better Internet for years.

Since that time Jansons says that Charter has established a “war room” in Farmersville that outlines the plans they have for the foothills area.
“Just the images alone of the war room and the maps are impressive. The project manager, the way he talks about it is so over my head but it’s fascinating” Jansons said.

Currently Internet, cable and phone service east of Farmersville Boulevard is lacking in adequacy. Residents have to rely on a repeater on Rocky Hill in order to gather a signal for Internet access. But that has proved to be barely functions. AT&T services the eastern side of town where newer developments and subdivisions have been built. But Jansons has heard that the service there is also spotty and residents also complain about Internet speeds.

“There really is a dearth of Internet that’s fair to say is almost city wide,” Jansons said.

Other Internet service providers like Frontier have drawn the ire of local customers. According to the Farmersville city manager repairs and customer service have been slow. For Charter, getting their system in Farmersville up and running has hit a few snags.

Jansons said that there has been some unforeseen remedial work to do in terms of infrastructure. Charter planned on using existing telephone poles to hold their cables but the weight of the cables has been too great for the aging poles. So they have had to improve some of the poles along the way. As well they have to bore under the rail road track for some of the cable.

The prospect of better and affordable Internet is a welcomed sign for City Hall as well. Last year they spoke with Vast Internet who manages fiber optic cable that runs through Visalia Road. The fiber optics were a part of a federal grant project meant to help give schools better and more reliable access to the Internet. Business and cities are allowed to hook on as well, but it is rather expensive. Exeter Hobbies owner Mark Hull says that he pays $500 per month to hook on which is a discounted rate. Other business pay $1,000. Jansons said that he wanted to hook on but the cost was prohibitive at $100,000.

“It’s right there, right at our feet but we can’t connect,” Jansons said.

The problem with inadequate Internet access is growing. Farmersville’s data collection is growing and they are hosting it on the cloud and an on-site server. Ideally the City would rather have a remote server to safeguard against on-site risks that could compromise the server and lose that data.

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