Mapping Broadband in Western North Carolina

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In 2008, your “Life Without Broadband” stories were instrumental in achieving a unanimous FCC vote to open the “TV white spaces” for high-capacity wireless broadband in rural areas.

Now you can share your stories about the challenges that you or your family have faced in obtaining broadband access in Western North Carolina. For example, where are the best free WiFi locations here in the mountains?

This is also your chance to get answers to your questions about broadband access in our mountain region. MAIN has access to the top public-interest broadband experts in the US to help answer your questions.

Ultimately, the goal of “Mapping Broadband in WNC” is to “crowd source” the collective wisdom and energy of our mountain communities to achieve state and federal broadband policies that solve our rural broadband deficit once and for all.

Please create an account with a username and password to participate in our “Mapping Broadband in WNC” discussion forum.

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Join the discussion! Post a reply to existing comments. Or start a new thread via the “Comments” form.

Frontier is the company of many promises and very little delivery. I've read all the postings above and most are similiar to our experience. Frontier's current excuse for not being able to deliver adequate (6Mbps is a minimum) and reliable (<2 is not useful) d'jour is "congestion." It's a fixable problem. All that aside, it is clear no progress is being made and Western NC will become less than a 3rd world economy if it does not improve. Frontier is not the answer. They only do what they are allowed to do. We need an activist movement to pressure local, state and even federal politicians to require telecommunications industry to include Western NC in the 21st century. As it is now, we are not even tracking well with the late, great 20th century whether it is internet access or cellular communications. I have a business in another state which I would love to expand and maybe even relocate into the Franklin area of NC. But, the business needs reliable internet access at usable bandwidths. I am sure other business are put-off by the harsh shortfall in technology in WNC as well. We've watched what Chattanooga has done. Soon, I'm given to understand that Georgia will pull a major fiber trunk into North Georgia soon so as to attract more Atlanta businesses away from Atlanta (no water there). Highlands NC just published it will provide its citizens with 10Mbps for free with options to buy more. Of course, not from Frontier. Of course, Highlands is the 2nd home to a lot of wealthy bankers and such.

I live in Cullowhee, 60 miles west of Asheville, NC. We love our home in a deep creek gorge on the side of a mountain. Both native to this area, we realize we are very lucky to have our tiny wisp of cell signal. At some expense we installed a cellular antenna and signal boosters which enable two solid bars all the time and intermittent 3G. While this system is a more than adequate alternative to Frontier's outdated system, our jobs require broadband. We are looking into Wild Blue or Hughes Net. Are you allowed to recommend a provider for the Cullowhee area?

I live in a fourth world portion of Lincoln county NC. There are near a 100+/- homes in this general area that do not have access to 'wired broadband'. The County Officials 'ARE WELL AWARE OF THIS PROBLEM' I have brought it to their attention in the past. There is a video of me at a County Meeting attempting to get answers from a County Manager which I never got. Open government LOL. The Lake front people are apparently a far better class of Citizens that seems to be our Commissions focus.

ATT will sell you a dial up service that wont stay connected long enough to do the required system updates to keep your PC OS, other software, and Security up to date. They charge you each month additional fees supposedly to maintain and improve their wires but the lake comes first (So it seems).

There is no DSL or Cable available, nor are there any wireless options here that are 'reliable'. Cell phones work here sometimes it depends on the mood of the RF gods.

I am using Hughes Net and am thankful for it being available. After taxes connectivity fees this fee and that fee it costs right at $80 a month for 12.7 GB (close estimate) Up and download. You are allowed 425 MB a day between 7Am and 2 AM.

If you exceed that you can wait 24 Hours or use a token (Some are free (1 per month it seems) and others you BUY and they ARE Pricey) to restore and get another 425MB allowance. Between 2AM and 7 AM as near as I can tell it is unlimited. Because of this I have to keep my updates off and update in the middle of the night.

There is no phone option or TV (Not that I want TV). They advertise at 1.66 download speed. The speed test I just finished came in at .64 down and .18 up. I will say that in the past their customer service (CS) was good.

It seems they may have recently changed their CS and are pushing their new 4G plans (Faster Up and Down loads LESS Fair access Allowance same price). It seems their CS for the old system is waning some as they are pushing to sell their new package, sell all new equipment and get another 2 year contract. When it rains, or snows and or is cloudy you loose connection quite often (seems to be more frequent as they promote their new system.

I have never had DSL but I did use Charter Cable at a previous locations. The cable worked very well for the most part but as it was the Hughes Net CS is far better. One main things between 'wired, wireless, and satellite' is the up and down load allowances. The wired systems seem to allow far more.

I would like to possibly seek some education online, and maybe try a small internet business. It is not practical using a 'wireless or satellite' connection because of the up and download limits. I have communicated with my Fed Rep in the House, and tried to contact my Fed Senator (I am a small person and don't have the funds necessary to get is attention it seems), State Officials of all kinds to be given a speech and a request for support (campaign donations etc.) in a lot of cases, and the local Board of Commissioners.

None of them seem to be concerned with the 4th world portions of Lincoln county (and I am sure other similar areas in the State).

We live at 3500 feet in Ellijay Township about half way between Franklin & Highlands. Until Frontier came in we did not have high speed I'net at all and it became available to us almost as soon as Frontier came in. It works perfectly. We are summer sissies and have DLS with AT&T at our winter home in Jacksonville, Fl. - Frontier is equal to our service w/AT&T except the customer service with Frontier is much, much better - wish it was available in Jax.

Our complaint is that we cannot get any reception whatsoever with any brand of mobile phone and that is a detriment to all areas in NC w/o cell service. NC is a major tourist area and parttime people along with nearly all tourists to the state have the same complaint. I don't know if you have any influence but we need more towers! Verizon does not get the job done as they are too propriatory (sp?)- we have T-Mobile and can jump off on the towers of AT&T, Sprint and several others but never Verizon - please bring in more cell phone access - it will help in all areas, new home buyers, tourism, etc.

We live in Elijay Township, between Franklin and Highlands in
Macon County.

DSL service peters out about 2000 feet down the road from our
location. The 20 or so homes beyond that point do not have access
to DSL service. There is no cable TV within miles.

Even if DSL had the range to reach this area, it would not matter,
as Frontier is out of "slots" in its "DSLAM" equipment located down
on RT. 64 and has shown no interest in adding capacity.

The luck few persons here with a clear view to the south can install
(very expensive) and inadequate satellite internet service. The remainder are stuck in the world of dial-up modems running at half
speed on a dry day.

While living in the city of Asheville, we were afforded "high-speed" internet access via Charter. The speed was adequate and we had good customer service. After moving to Alexander (which is in north Buncombe county), we were given one option - satellite thru Hughes. It was horribly expensive and barely worked. Eventually, ATT offered us DSL which is not as pricey, but still barely works. It takes 8 ours to download a movie, if you run more than 1 device at a time, the service freezes. We ran an on-line retail business from our home for several years with great difficulty. If true high-speed was offered, we would do it again. One of the most frustrating aspects of this is that Charter service ends less than 1 mile from our home. We were told it was not cost effective for them to run service down our dead end, 2 mile long road since there are not enough homes (at least 15).

I pay $51 to AT&T/month. (It just went up again. Because I don't have a landline phone with them, they upcharge me for the service. I'd rather have service through Charter. (Listen up, Charter.) However, since I use my own domain name, they won't support it unless you are a business customer. So it's not that they CAN'T support users with their own domains, it's that they WON'T. I used to have a cable modem and it took months of calling to ask why I had so many bounced back emails or emails that never went through before someone at Charter finally admitted that they wouldn't support my domain and that that was the problem. Still get the annoying spam phone calls from charter trying to sell me bundles. When I say my piece about the lack of support for my domain in their internet service, the telemarketer will blithely go on to trying to sell me a landline account. I would go back to a cable modem in a heartbeat if they would support my domain, which I need for business.

We were on verizon DSL after 4 years on satelitte. Verizon was a lot faster and no restrictions. We're then forced to frontier by our state PUC. The speed is still only 1.5 mbps down and .37 up. This is no where near federal standards. They have now increased their rate to 34.99. They have me listed as max broadband, of course no increase in speed. I complained to frontier and their response was we're sorry. I complained to the NC PUC they said they don't have any jurisdiction over internet, and forwarded my complain to the state attorney general consumer fraud. They said they can't force the company to upgrade their equipment to provide better service. Somebody has to step up and regulate these companies. We deserve better in the rural areas. HSI should be nothing less then 4 mpbs.

Wally Bowen's picture

Thanks James. We will be sharing your comments and others' with the FCC, Congress and other policymakers. It would help if you could say a few words about how this inadequate broadband affects your life and livelihood.

I own an online business and in 2012, my wife and I moved from a large city where we had 20Mb Cable Internet to Hendersonville, NC. Not being too familiar with the area, we made the decision to rent.

Most will never understand what it is like to not have broadband as they haven't recently had to do without it.

As we looked for houses to rent, we had to make decisions based on internet connection. It was unfortunate to find out that DSL 6Mb is the fastest speed available in the area where we were looking.

We've been here for a year and would $100/month for faster internet but that is not an option. As we look for land and the possibility of buying a house, internet availability is the first thing we have to consider.

Even if someone gave us free land, if it did not have broadband, we would not build on it.

Prior to my own experience, my thought was for people to move. It's easy to have that mindset when you have your own fast connection.

Thanks for your efforts and keep at it.

-Steve

Our home is in a 4-5 year old development on Lake James. Frontier services the area on a very limited basis. Some homes in our development cannot obtain DSL at all. Most, like ours, is limited to about 1Mbps because of the distance to the central office. Frontier is not offering any plans for adding or upgrading equipment to better serve our community.

Morris Broadband cable service ends at the entrance to our development. Only 1 house in the entire community has cable. Morris Broadband has no plans for providing services to the rest of our community.

Please help us obtain quality broadband services around Lake James in McDowell County. Thank you.

We live on Old Linville Road in McDowell County and still use dialup. Frontier often sends offers for high-speed internet, but of course that offer is not available in our area (although their more expensive satellite service is). Perhaps moving might be the best option but who wants to buy a home in an area with such limitations?

We never really had much of a problem with our broadband, but all of a sudden we're lucky to have .50mbps download speeds. We're paying for 3mbps. This is our only broadband option which is via AT&T. Looked into that new Vistanet service but can't afford to pay $60 a month. Almost worth it to go back to dial-up.

We live off of 226 South on a road that had at least 13 houses. Local cable companys have never come out our road, so we thought we would call Frontier and to no avail they too would not come to our home. If you want phone lines they will. I don't want phone lines just better internet. I have been with Verizon wireless for at least six years and need something faster and something not so expensive. I live less than five miles from Marion and everyone can get cable and internet but us. HELP!

We have no high speed, no cell service, and many times no land line phone service. It amazes me that even in third world countries they can get high speed and cell service and here in the US we can't in many places. I took the test but can't be certain you got the results, so here they are- download 0.02, upload 0.04.

We live 1.5 miles from the line of the company that provides service in our area and they will come no further. We have to use satellite service which is very expensive. We would really like to have broad band accessibility.

I live on US Hwy 19W in the Burnsville area about 8 mi from TN border and have been here for 9 years. We have no access to DSL, cable, or anything but satellite. Satellite is not only expensive, but upload speeds are incredibly slow (actually both upload and download are slow, but upload is crawling)...this makes it difficult to be on the same playing field as others, especially when working from home and taking classes online (I am a graduate student depending on distance learning at times, which is interactive). The quality of phone lines out here is poor, so DSL is something that is only promised in the future and has been for 9 years. We were promised broadband several years ago through a local cable company (grant funded initiative), but that is something we still do not have access to and may never. It's hard to compete in a competive world when technology cannot be brought current. By the way, we pay the same for phone service for lines that crackle when it rains compared to someone in town who has better lines and access to DSL.

I live in Rutherford County between Lake Lure and Rutherfordton and have NO options for broadband. Please bring me some internet!

The only service available in my area is through Wild Blue, which I used in the past for about $80 a month. The customer service was through Dish Network and was terrible. The connection was down a lot and when I called, they said must be bad weather or that they just didn't know why. At the end we had not been able to connect for days and they were going to send someone out three weeks later. That was it for me with them.

Next we tried Frontier who delivered the equipment and began charging us with no problem but then had a problem with everything else. After weeks of scheduled service visits that they never made it to and running tests on their end that showed no problem they finally sent someone out who discovered we weren't in an area that could receive broadband service. So that was it with me for them also.

Now I use a wireless hotspot through Virgin Mobile. The one month plan is $50 and lasts no where near a month. I have never been able to watch videos with any of my plans because the speed is just too slow. I would like to take online classes or at least have Netflix but it isn't possible with these speeds at these prices.

Hello,
We are a wireless ISP running from Cashiers, NC and will be glad to service everybody located in the triangle Lake Toxaway - Highlands - Sylva (AFTER SITE SURVEY TO DETERMINE OPTIONS AT LOCATION). We offer plans starting from 1.5Mbps symmetric all the way up to 60Mbps in certain locations. Give us a call and inquire if you have a residence or business in the serviced area. 828-743-8006. Best of luck to everybody if you really need service. Please support your local Wireless Internet Service Providers wherever you are!
Regards,

I live in West Marion, where Frontier Telephone Co. and the cable company do not provide service to me. It ends approximately one mile from my house, but they will not bring access any closer to me. I tried satellite internet, but it only works when the weather cooperates. Sometimes you have service...sometimes you don't. I cancelled the satellite when I discovered that I could get service through Verizon with their JetPak, but it is quite expensive...10 gigabytes for $80/mo. If you go over any amount over 10 gigabytes, no matter how small the amount you go over 10, it costs an extra $10 for EACH gigabyte over 10 gigabytes. I am so tired of not having quality internet service. It is very frustrating.

We feel that broadband is one of the key economic and community development issues in rural areas. Thanks for telling your story. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to do so as well.

We live on NC Highway 226A between Marion and Little Switzerland. This highway climbs a mountain and has sharp curves. According to the Verizon Wireless map our house gets a broadband signal from three different towers, but actually we only get a signal from one - the one near Marion. That signal is weak, so we put a large, expensive antenna in our attic to boost it. We feel lucky to get a signal at all, because most of our neighbors do not. As you drive up or down this highway your cell phone signal disappears entirely for long stretches, so broadband signals must do the same.The local phone company (Verizon, not Verizon Wireless) apparently has no plans to provide modern phone cables to the hundreds of residents along this highway. We cannot get a direct answer from the "customer service" reps because they don't have this info in India/Pakistan.

For the past 11 years I have put up with a frustrating dial-up connection. I live on the southern end of McDowell County and have tryed with every internet provider I can find and NO ONE will offer high speed in my area. My husband uses the internet to order supplies for his business and really needs the high speed offered in other nearby locations. Please help!

Thank you for writing and sharing your experiences. Please also add your location to the Broadband Map. MAIN will be hosting its first Community Drop-In at the Old Fort Library on March 9th from 1 - 4 PM. Please encourage your friends without service to stop in, tell their story, and add their address to the map.

I live on Old Linville Road north of Marion. For a while years ago I tried dial up but was so frustrated I gave it up. I have been told by Verizon and Frontier that I am on the border line for service. I don't even own a computer now. Satellite is too expensive for me. Internet is a necessity. I feel like I'm living in the dark ages!

Thank you for telling your story. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to map their experiences as well.

We live off Hwy 64 west, a Murphy NC address but about 18 miles west of town towards the Tennessee line. Have lived there 12 years. Our phone is AT&T. Our only access for high speed internet is satellite, and 'Exceed' is expensive ! I have family members who would consider coming to live on our property but can not because their jobs require the higher speed access. I am in medicine, and would love to have what my colleges in the city have when it comes to Internet access.

We use mobile "broadband." Verrryyy slow. Been waiting for faster option since 2006 when we moved to Marion. We're only 10 minutes from downtown where cable is available. I work mostly from home and it's a nightmare to try to download necessary forms, etc. for work. I keep getting notices in the mail from Frontier DSL but when I call they tell me it's not available for my area.

Thank you for posting your experience on the map. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to map their speed and share their story as well.

in certain roads in our area there is no broad band .I live off bethleham rd. off old fort sugar hill in old fort nc.

Thank you for writing and mapping your speed. Please ask your friends and neighbors to share their experiences as well. We'll be holding our first Mapping Open House at the Old Fort Library on March 9, 2013 from 1 - 4 pm in the conference room. IF you have friends who have no access who want to share their experiences, we will have a laptop bank for users to get online and tell their story. Thanks again!

We moved to Nebo about 3 years ago. My husband was trying to work from home and we were told that we could get Verizon DSL. We not only could not get it, but we were unable to get a landline phone for over a year. Verizon had pulled out and Frontier was slow to take over service. We are in an area with poor to fair cell phone reception, and there were times when we had no phone service for weeks. We had the Verizon card for our internet service for 1 1/2 years and it was extremely slow. I think dial up would have been better. It is not suitable for video or uploading or transmittal of large files. After many calls to Frontier we were able to get their wireless DSL. It is terrible. We have an 2 Apple computers and our signal is so poor that our wireless connection has to be rebooted several times a day. Customer service is unsympathetic to the problem. They say there is something wrong with our computers. If we take our laptop to Marion or Asheville, we get great wireless service on our "defective" computer. Can we get some help out here please?

Thank you, Susan, for sharing your story. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to test their speed and let us know what their experience has been as well.

I live on highway 209 between Waynesville and Hot Springs right on the county line. I zoomed your service map in on my location and it is not correct. Maybe it is only in demo mode now and not fully updated for accuracy? The map says there is a wired broadband connection across the street from me. Not. Verizon once told me the same thing looking at their own map a couple years ago and I laughed at them. Now AT+T owns the phone line and because the line is damaged they have to come up once or twice a year to fix it when the static gets out of hand. I always ask the linemen, when are you going to run a new phone line up here? When are you going to run high speed internet up here. They just say it's not going to happen.

When they won't even bother to replace a damaged buried phone line, I feel confident high speed internet will never be run up here unless they are forced to do it.

So I have Hughes satellite internet. It is adequate, but forget watching any kind of video and you have to be careful with large downloads so you don't go over your daily allowance. The speed is moody to say the least. I get adequate service for $90 a month. Such a deal.

Christopher, thanks for posting your comment. Our map is based on the official FCC broadband map. We built it via files we downloaded from the FCC website. One of the main goals of this effort is to identify discrepancies between the FCC map and what's actually occurring on the ground. Your feedback in this regard is extremely valuable and helpful. Once we have a sufficient sampling, we will be sharing this data with the FCC and other key policy makers.

We are exactly 1/2 mile off of Hwy 19/74 in the Nantahala Gorge and just 1 mile from NOC. They (NOC)have ultra high speed internet and have had it for nearly 15 years. I first enquired about DSL over 7 years ago and each year I am promised it will be the "next" year. My cabin business relies on internet connectivity more and more each year and so we are forced to pay high rates for slow and unreliable satelite internet service. The most painful and frustrating part is knowing the internet superhighway is just 1/2 mile away!

Wally Bowen's picture

The FCC is required to report to Congress on the local impact of its policies, former FCC official Mark Lloyd tells MAIN. “Most of the information the FCC gets, it gets from the industry, or from services that the industry supports,” says Lloyd. “The reports may be right, but they may also be wrong. It is very important for local communities to gather their own information, to tell their own stories with hard data. This might help the FCC, and it might help members of Congress understand why these local issues, these issues that touch the lives of people in their district, are important.”

I have had DSL (if you want to call it that today) as long as DSL has been around the Walnut area. For the most part, it has been working well, however, over the last 6 to 8 months, we have gone from DSL speed to dial up speed.
The breaking point was when I was going to upload a 30 minutes video and found out it was going to take over 13 hours to upload. I took to another place that did not have Frontier and uploaded in less than 30 minutes.
Called Frontier and they gave me the, "You're in a high volume area." They further said they were trying new things with their fiber, which runs in front of my home to the switch, which is less than a half mile from my house. I even talked with a friend of mine who installs cable and when I told him the speed, and the distance from the switch, he could not believe.
In talking with Frontier, they say they talked with a programmer who was to have "moved me to 3 Mb/s. As usual, customer pays for something and does not get.

Broadband internet access is important to the recovery and growth of our economy. I work from home in the community of Burningtown outside the city of Franklin, NC. For years I have been trying to get broadband internet first from Verizon and then Frontier when they took over service approximately 3 years ago. In FCC filings related to the sale of service from Verizon to Frontier, Frontier promised to bring high speed internet access to remote areas of Western NC within 3 years. They have not done this and now tell me there are no plans to bring high speed internet to the area - despite their mailing campaigns for service availability which continue to arrive in my mail and in my local newspaper. Broadband internet access via satellite cost me $129.99 per month with Exede / WildBlue is very expensive and weather dependent. Can you please help me investigate why Frontier is NOT being held to their commitments in their FCC filings to bring high speed internet access to the Burningtown community? I've written to Congressman - Mark Meadows, complained to Frontier, contacted the NC Utilities Commission.

Internet access was not an issue 30 yrs ago in the quiet farm community of Big Sandy Mush. Internet is now used for almost every conceivable need, and I'd be lost without it. As an organizer of various public events it is an essential tool, especially keeping in touch and answering folks questions in a timely fashion.
When everyone had dial up we didn't know the difference, but now we've got a high speed satellite dish. However It is expensive, goes down due to weather and other unknown reasons just when you really need it, is erratic, and can be an exercise in frustration. Since it is a satellite you are charged $100 for a service call when something breaks. I might add there is also no cell phone service. Peaceful here? yes, frustrating, emphatically yes!!!

Where I live I am unable to get cable or cable internet. The only option that is available to me is DSL through Frontier. I pay right at $60 a month for very poor quality service. I initially signed up for 3mbps service and could not get but 1.5 mbps. I was told that was the fastest speed my lines would handle. I then downgraded to the 1.5 mbps service. At that point my speeds dropped to 1.0 mbps or less. I have requested service calls numerous times for a technician to come see if they can help and appointments are made, but Frontier never sends a technician. We have been told that they are not required to send out a technician. We have been bluntly told that the level of service we receive is what we pay for. $60.98 is my internet bill after taxes and fees for one month for this level of service. As I have no other broadband options where I live I am forced to pay this every month. I receive very poor quality of service and very poor customer service. I have gone days with the internet not functioning at all only to be told there were outages in the area and receive no credit on my account. I recently returned to Franklin from a year in Phoenix Arizona. There I paid less than $50 a month for 30mbps and in 11 months I lost service twice for a combined total of 35 minutes. I have been told that the phone lines were set here in the early 80's and that Frontier does not have an upgrade or replacement of these lines or any infrastructure in this are for at least the next 3 to 5 years.

Wally Bowen's picture

Many of you have e-mailed us with comments about problems obtaining adequate broadband access. Thanks! These comments will help us build a public record to bring about changes to US broadband policies, which currently discriminate against rural communities and low-income neighborhoods.

Please post your comments and questions in this forum. The first step in building a movement for change is the realization that you are not alone. That others share your experience and concerns.

Posting your comments in this public forum will not only inform; it will encourage others to speak out.

Rural broadband is a problem we can solve. We have the technology, the funding (e.g. Connect America Fund), and the will. All that's missing is the policy.

By letting our voices be heard, we can change the policy. For details, see the “Learn More” section of this website.

I love our little mountain home; however, we pay a lot for sloooow Internet service through French Broad Electric. I never click to watch videos because it takes 6 minutes to download a 2 minute video. I have to take my devices to someone else's house to do updates and back up data because it always times out at my house. I am in the real estate business, so it is really difficult for me to work without high speed service! HELP!!

Living in the wilderness has its advantages, but broadband is not one of them. After two years of expensive and mediocre satellite broadband, we now rely on wireless tethering via our mobile phones. It's costly, cumbersome and inefficient.

Thanks for sharing your experience Donna. Please make sure that you submit “No Broadband Access” for your location via the Speed Test form. Just curious: How expensive is it to tether your mobile phone to your laptop?

At this point, about $40 per month.

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