HSV Community News, Events, Opinions, People, and Places

Broadband & Cellular

Problems With Broadband and Cellular in
Hot Springs Village

In Hot Springs Village we have a serious problem with a lack of Broadband and Cellular service. The principal issue we face is little or no competition or regulation combined with our hilly and wooded terrain and a very large service area. This is further compounded by an older population many of whom may not have even had a working telephone in their homes as kids. Furthermore, apparently no one in HSV has ever made a concerted effort to correct our situation. Now we are so far behind the curve it isn’t even funny. Just think how life would be if some sections of the Village had no electric power or no running water or sewer. No one would have bought homes. This is where we are heading in the new 21st century technological age we live in. Those retiring baby boomers won’t come. It may have already been a factor in that there have not been more than 50 new home permits here each year for the last ten years. And we wonder why.

HSV Broadband & Cellular Problem Not Unique

We are not unique with this issue as many rural areas suffer with us. But, most rural communities do not contribute hundreds of millions in economic impact to their surrounding metro areas every year either. I’d say it is time we wake up and get the problem fixed. Today we live in an age, like it or not, where 8 year-olds have Apple iPhones and their parents are routinely ditching their cable TV and streaming everything “over the top” via their high-speed internet connection. Soon many communities will have 5G LTE cellular with the capability of streaming high-speed data with no wires or cable at all. But here we are with many parts of our Village having no cell phone signal and/or no cable and/or no high-speed data service or anything from anyone.

Not Enough Being Done

Yes, it won’t be an easy process to force the large carriers into extending any services. And there may be costs involved which the Village must bear. I can only say that doing nothing never solved anything. Also, had we not squandered millions in recent years on un-needed and un-wanted projects like CMP and Declarations Vote we might have a few dollars to spend. Sure, the CMP mentions the issue but only because a few residents like me brought it to their attention and forced the issue. Someone noted on Nextdoor that our POA has a working group addressing the issues noted herein. The only effort I know of currently being made is a $50,000 budget item this year for getting serviceable Wi-Fi in our public buildings. This is something that should have been done 15 years ago. At the February 20, 2019 Board Meeting and in the Hot Springs Village Voice Newspaper, Tuesday February 19th, there was mention of Ritter Communications laying fiber lines to get better broadband to commercial businesses in Hot Springs. Other than that – and it has nothing to do with the Village – I’ve heard nothing of merit from anyone in the three years I’ve lived here. That is despite various articles in the paper going back six or more years claiming this and that which have never materialized.

Hot Springs Village Tower
HSV Cell Tower By Debra’s Restaurant
World Going to 5G LTE

Some are confusing 5GHz with 5G LTE. All newer internet Wi-Fi routers, like the one you may have in your home, communicate on two bands: 2.4 GHz and 5GHz. This is not 5G LTE. These routers connect to the internet via cable or other means and then broadcast and receive signals simultaneously on both frequencies. The 5GHz is faster than the 2.4GHz but the 5GHz does not penetrate walls, etc as well as the 2.4GHz. So, some folks will be using one or the other depending on location of their router, how many rooms the signal must cover, etc. What we are talking about here is your Wi-Fi signal not your cellular service protocol.

5G LTE – Latest and Greatest

5G LTE is the latest and greatest service level being implemented now by all the cellular phone carriers worldwide. The name stands for 5th Generation Long Term Evolution. What we have now in the Village is 4G LTE which drops off to 3G and 2G depending upon certain variables and locations. There is something like a 10 fold (or more) increase in data speed, capacity, and range with 5G LTE over the older protocols.

If implemented here, we would be able to get reliable high-speed broadband service over the cellular data network. We can’t do that today. The good part is that there would be no need for ATT or Suddenlink or anyone else to run wires to your home from their system. There would not be a need for a satellite dish on your roof either. You could do everything from the cellular signal which your devices (you would need new ones) pick up. However, the first order of business is to increase the numbers of towers and their height and range. Just doing this, even before the rollout of 5G LTE would also help solve our current poor cell service coverage with the existing 4G LTE signals.

Need Minimum Speed of 75 Mbps

Keep in mind that the fastest 4G LTE is currently maxing out at something like 30 Mbps (Megabits per second). That’s in perfect conditions. If you can get that, it is marginally enough to stream some video like Netflix but the typical user sees only 10 to 15 Mbps which isn’t enough for most uses, particularly large screens and simultaneously running other demands like your email or multiple TVs.

For today’s home systems the broadband data speed needs to be at least 75 Mbps and most people are opting for 100 to 200 or more. This is on conventional cable systems or ATT U-verse type systems. In some cities you can now get even higher speeds still, even Gigabit speed.

Having said all this, the ideal situation would be to have fiber optic cable run from your provider’s system right up to your door. This has already happened in many neighborhoods in high population areas and that is what most large central city businesses get. Don’t ever expect that in HSV, particularly in the older neighborhoods or those remote from DeSoto Boulevard where I’m told the fiber backbone is installed.

 Adverse Effects of 5G LTE?

Some claim that the 5G LTE frequencies may have adverse effects for people health wise. I am not familiar with the problem, if there really is one, but just like any new technology, there are always those who oppose. Some reasons are valid, some not. I do know of people who to this day still refuse to use any cellular phone or wrap their heads in tin foil if forced to speak on one. My guess is we will all die of global warming first. But that’s just me.

The fact is that the world, not just the United States, is going to 5G LTE technology and it may well be the most cost effective solution to our issues in the Village. Verizon Wireless has already turned on what they call 5G Home in certain parts of Houston, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Indianapolis. ATT already has their mobile 5G network in parts of a dozen cities including Atlanta, Charlotte, Louisville, Oklahoma City and others. So, ask yourself, what’s wrong with Hot Springs Village? How do we get on the list?

Return on Investment Should not be an Excuse

As to ROI (return on investment): Everyone likes to use that as an excuse for why we don’t have what we should have here in the Village – insufficient ROI. I would submit to you that there is no quantifiable ROI for most public service projects, basic infrastructure services and some amenities. A prime example is the new pool soon to be approved by the Hot Springs Village Board of Directors for $1,250,000. But, as the pool proponents claim, there are intrinsic values to be considered also. They say there are a lot of folks who won’t move to Hot Springs Village without a new swimming pool. The fact is there are probably 100 times more who won’t move here or buy or build a home here if they cannot have true and reliable hi-speed broadband or if they can’t make a cell phone call from their beautiful, wooded, secluded lot.

No Unsolvable Problems

There is no problem that is not fixable. We just need to get started. Continuing to wait will only prove more costly down the road.

Written by: TOM BLAKEMAN

Editing, Formatting & Photos by: CHERYL AND JOE DOWDEN

Editor’s Note: This article is a compilation and rewrite of several comments originally made on Nextdoor by Tom Blakeman and then edited and reposted with permission on https//hotspringsvillagepeople.com


« »
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial