Broadband vetted by water board

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More information sought as candidate’s idea gets hearing

By Shannon Brock

The South Anderson Water District is requesting more information before it decides whether to allow a broadband internet supplier to attach antennas to its water towers in an effort to bring the service to rural Anderson County.

The water district board met last Tuesday night and discussed the possibility with Shelby Broadband owner Chuck Hogg, judge-executive candidate Chip Chambers and several interested citizens and business owners.

Board chairman Eddie Stevens told those attending the meeting that he was very interested in bringing broadband internet to rural Anderson County, as he would be one of the citizens to benefit from it.

“We’re for it,” Stevens said. “We’re not standing in the way.”

Stevens noted that the district met with Hogg back in February, asked for more information and expected to meet with him again during its March meeting.

However, Hogg did not return until Tuesday’s meeting.

Hogg said he has been working in other areas, but is still interested in bringing his service to Anderson County and hopes to get started with the South Anderson water towers.

Before that happens, the water district needs some specific information, Stevens said.

The district wants to know how the antennas will be attached to its water towers, if the company’s frequencies will interfere with those of the water district and the water district’s attorney, Ray Edelman, asked to see something concrete as far as a lease agreement goes.

Board members also thought it would be beneficial to hear testimonials from current customers and others who lease property to Shelby Broadband.

The board also expressed concern regarding how often representatives from the company would need access to the towers.

Chambers, the judge-executive candidate, told the board he thought its compensation from the service would outweigh the inconvenience of allowing access to the site.

Chambers rekindled the conversation of getting Shelby Broadband into Anderson County last month during a news conference.

The idea had been discussed previously between Hogg and outgoing Judge-Executive Steve Cornish, but that process had stalled.

Shelby Broadband will pay the district an initial $150 for granting access to the towers, and the district will receive an additional 7 percent revenue share from service in the area.

Judge-executive candidate Donna Drury voiced her concern that the customers of South Anderson would end up footing the bill should something go wrong and wondered about the “legitimacy of financial stability” of the company.

Edelman, the attorney, said he did not foresee that being a problem as the water district would be “basically leasing space.”

Drury also said she thought customers deserved options for broadband service and said the water district should also consider meeting with other companies.

Stevens, the board chairman, said the board was open to meeting with any and all companies — they just needed to contact the water district.

Other citizens in attendance said right now they have no option for broadband and would rather have one than none.

Hogg estimates putting antennas on the district water towers will provide coverage for about 60 percent of the county’s rural areas and said that number could increase if he is granted access to other highpoints across the county.

Shelby Broadband’s prices range from $37.95 to $77.95 residentially, with most customers opting for a plan that costs around $47.95, Hogg said.

Customers would also pay a $150 installation fee.

Shelby Broadband is currently providing similar services in Spencer, Shelby, Oldham, Henry and Franklin counties, along with a small portion of Anderson.

Both Chambers and Hogg requested to be put on the agenda for the district’s Oct. 21 meeting, and Hogg agreed to answer the district’s questions by that meeting.

E-mail Shannon Brock at sbrock@theandersonnews.com.