Sudlersville en­ter­tains WiFi ser­vice con­tract

Record Observer - - News - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

SUDLERSVILLE — In an ef­fort to re­ceive bet­ter in­ter­net con­nec­tion in one of the north­ern most ar­eas of Queen Anne’s County, the Sudlersville Com­mis­sion­ers will con­sider a con­tract with Del­marva WiFi LLC to get ser­vice to the ru­ral town.

John Wood­field of Del­marva WiFi LLC, based in Ch­ester­town, gave in­for­ma­tion to the com­mis­sion­ers about the ser­vices his com­pany pro­vides to ar­eas with trou­ble re­ceiv­ing in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity dur­ing the town’s Wed­nes­day, Feb. 1, meet­ing.

Hav­ing built a net­work that aims to serve lo­ca­tions un­able to re­ceive high speed in­ter­net, Wood­field, ac­com­pa­nied by Ch­ester­town at­tor­ney David Wright, walked the com­mis­sion and town res­i­dents in at­ten­dance through how the com­pany pro­vides its ser­vice.

Mount­ing an­ten­nas to el­e­vated struc­tures, which for Sudlersville would be its wa­ter tower, Wood­field said the com­pany brings the needed sig­nal in wire­lessly and re­dis­tributes it to peo­ple in the gen­eral area. In most cases, the ra­dius of ser­vice is five miles from the an­tenna, though Wood­field said it de­pends on line of sight.

If Sudlersville went for­ward with a ser­vice con­tract, which will be dis­cussed fur­ther at the town’s March 1 meet­ing when an ac­tual pro­posal is in hand, the town would join a list of Mary­land places to ben­e­fit from Del­marva WiFi’s ser­vice. Wood­field said the com­pany cur­rently has equip­ment on struc­tures in Ox­ford, Bet­ter­ton, Rock Hall, Eastville and towns up and down the East­ern Shore.

From a gov­ern­ment’s ap­proach in hav­ing mul­ti­ple providers in an area, Wood­field said his ex­pe­ri­ence has been it usu­ally is “very pro get­ting in­ter­net out ... to give res­i­dents of the town or out­lin­ing ar­eas choice and have op­tions that way.” If con­tracted, Del­marva WiFi is not seek­ing ex­clu­siv­ity, so mul­ti­ple providers would still be able to set up ser­vice net­works in the town.

At a nor­mal rate of $65 per month for users, ser­vices in­clude un­lim­ited us­age and no caps, Wood­field said. For qual­i­fied users, such as low in­come house­holds and senior cit­i­zens on fixed in­comes, a dis­count to $20 would be the per monthly fee.

“We would like to look at pro­vid­ing some in­cen­tives for the town as far as the park or senior cen­ters con­cern,” Wood­field said about set­ting up mul­ti­ple hotspots around the area. Wood­field said the town would re­ceive $350 per month, to­tal­ing $4,200 a year, for a term of five years. The com­pany does not pro­vide rev­enue shar­ing agree­ments with any of its cus­tomers, Wood­field said.

Cur­rently, Sudlersville re­ceives a fran­chise fee from At­lantic Broad­band for ser­vice in the town.

Hav­ing fiber in Ch­ester­town, Wye Mills and Cam­bridge, the con­nec­tion goes wire­lessly into the wa­ter tower, Wood­field said. As a mem­ber of the Mary­land Broad­band Co­op­er­a­tive, fiber is pur­chased through it and At­lantic Broad­band, as well as other places, Wood­field said.

“We own our in­fra­struc­ture from end to end,” Wood­field said. “We pur­chase band­width from mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ent fiber car­ri­ers, and we take that and dis­trib­ute it wire­lessly.”

Wright said the com­pany “fo­cuses on solv­ing the prob­lems, ser­vice, be­ing lo­cal [and] when you call him you get some­body in Ch­ester­town, not in Chicago or Bom­bay or some­thing.”

Users in­ter­ested in re­ceiv­ing ser­vices would have an an­tenna at­tached to their house to get the sig­nal from the el­e­vated struc­ture send­ing the sig­nal out.

At the com­mis­sion’s next meet­ing, a con­tract pro­posal as well as a list of four po­ten­tial hotspot lo­ca­tions will be dis­cussed. Meet­ings be­gin at 6:30 p.m. and take place at the town of­fice at 200 S. Church St.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

John Wood­field of Del­marva WiFi LLC, left, and at­tor­ney David Wright dis­cuss the po­ten­tial of pro­vid­ing high-speed in­ter­net ser­vice to Sudlersville dur­ing the town com­mis­sion meet­ing Feb. 1.

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