Tech+ Mailbag: When Comcast broadband isn’t available at your home, here are some options
Q: I’m a resident of Perry Park (Larkspur area) and although Comcast has service in some areas out here, they don’t service my home. The only real choice I have is the “blazing speed” of CenturyLink — 1.5 mbps. Houses that are literally just down the street from me have Comcast service but Comcast won’t come here and CenturyLink advertises high speed, but if you ask when they plan to upgrade their service, there’s no answer. Maybe you could get some kind of information that would give us a little hope? — Doug Duvigneaud
Tech+: After some poking around and with Doug’s input, here’s what we found. Comcast built cable lines from Denver to Colorado Springs and added connections in Larkspur so some area residents can order high-speed internet from Comcast. But for those out of reach of that fat pipe, you’re mostly out of luck. Comcast has no plans to expand service there.
“We appreciate that people want access to our high-speed internet service because of the incomparable speeds and reliability we offer,” said Leslie Oliver, a Comcast spokeswoman.
But, she continued, “Building out broadband infrastructure requires significant capital investment to complete construction and provide service to individual homes and businesses, and it can be more costly to build out an infrastructure network in less dense/more rural areas. A variety of factors impact where Comcast is able to extend its service including negotiated agreements with individual communities, and factors like structural density, distance from main point connections, geographical terrain and barriers, as well.”
However, an option where homeowners fund the construction to connect internet to their homes is available in some areas.
Doug checked with Comcast on the possibility and was quoted a cost of “between $30,000 and $100,000 to complete the work on our street,” he said.
According to his calculations, the $30,000 price seemed in the ballpark since there are 26 lots in his neighborhood “with 10 built and two under construction,” he said. “We moved here from Virginia, and our neighborhood there was able to get Comcast to install their services and it cost a little over $700/household, so I think the estimate is ‘realistic.’ ”
After some more research, Doug ended up picking DirectLink, which offers broadband internet service via a technology called fixedwireless. DirectLink visited Doug’s home to test speed viability and he signed up to get 15 mbps speeds for $69 a month. Deep in his contract, he shared that there is a 150 gigabyte data cap.
There are a handful of other internet service providers that specialize in getting broadband speeds to remote areas. A great starting point is DSLReports.com, which sorts telecom reviews based on ZIP code.
And there’s another source: your local government officials and state legislators, said Ken Fellman, who is Douglas County’s attorney and serves as outside counsel for many Colorado communities. Municipalities can’t force cable companies to offer broadband internet in areas that are underserved and because of state law SB 152, municipalities can’t build their own systems.
However in Colorado, voters in nearly 100 cities, towns and counties have opted out of SB 152 so they can explore how to offer broadband to residents. Most are still studying the possibilities and solutions will vary, from Longmont’s publicly-owned internet service to Centennial’s partnership with a private company to offer gigabit internet to residents.
“The reason this (opting out of SB 152) is happening in rural communities and conservative communities is because citizens are saying, ‘the private sector is not addressing our needs, please town council, help!’ ” Fellman said. “Local people said we need our government to get involved and help address this problem or we’re going to shrivel up and die.”