Hanover won't provide high speed Internet

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - Many of us take for granted having access to high speed Internet, but for some folks in rural parts of Hanover, they're still struggling just to get online.

Many people in Hanover County rely on satellite connections just to check their email. Some of them had hoped Hanover County would step in and provide Internet access for them, but the county says it simply doesn't have enough money to do that.

Jennifer Scott lives in Doswell and runs a communications company from her home.

"We're (barely) better than dial-up where we are," Scott said. "I've tried everything. I've paid a lot a month for satellite and it was (not) much better than dial-up. I paid for a wireless card and I get about half a bar."

She's one of many people struggling to complete the simplest of tasks online.

"I can't watch a video and not have it buffer," she said.

Hanover County leaders have spent the last two years trying to figure out how to help people like Jennifer.

The County figured out it would cost roughly $30 million to provide the Internet access themselves - money that's simply not there in this time of shrinking government budgets.

Angela Kelly-Wiecek is part of the county committee that's been working to fix this issue.

She says the county now needs to work with private Internet providers like Verizon and Comcast to convince them to provide this service to undeserved areas.

"There's not going to be a one size fits all solution to this," Kelly-Wiecek said. "That's the key here, we need to look at this on an individual basis."

The high speed Internet committee is recommending the county provide tax incentives to connect some areas with high speed Internet.

The County will also look to better map out where high speed hotspots already exist.

For people like Jennifer, high speed Internet is not a luxury. She says some of her neighbors are now considering moving.

"It's almost like indoor plumbing," Scott said. "You're not going to sell your house without indoor plumbing. In 20 years, you're not going to sell your house without high speed Internet."

One of the recommendations includes looking for federal grant money, but some members of the Board of Supervisors say Hanover County is too affluent to be eligible for some of that money.

The county is also looking to hire a full-time employee to keep looking at how to address Internet issues in the county.

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