Louisa County Broadband Authority members say they’d like to report to the community how many citizens have obtained faster internet service as a result of the group’s work.
But they can’t, they say, because SCS Broadband, the company contracted to provide service on all of the authority’s wireless towers, won’t tell them.
“It’s amazing to me that we can’t get these numbers from the people we hired,” said Melvin Burruss, an authority member, at the Jan. 8 meeting.
Bob Hardy, the county’s information technology director, pointed out that the authority didn’t “hire” SCS Broadband, it signed a contract with them. He said he believes the contract obliges the company to share customer data with the authority, but not with the public.
Clay Stewart, SCS Broadband’s chief operating officer, said information about the company’s customers is proprietary, but said he was happy to share it with the authority in closed session.
The lack of hard data to present to the public is frustrating to authority members, especially at a time when the board of supervisors is questioning whether the authority should continue to exist.
“You’ve got to show the board what we got for the $1.1 million,” said Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes (Patrick Henry district). That’s the amount the board appropriated for the wireless towers in 2016. Towers were erected at three of the elementary schools and Louisa County High School, with a fifth planned in Holly Grove. Equipment was also installed on two other towers in Gordonsville and Zion Crossroads.
James Ogg, another authority member, complained that he’s been waiting since last June for service from SCS at his Trevilians residence. He said the company has given him several “commitments” to install service within a couple of weeks, but without following through.
“People have got [the company’s] equipment in their homes, but they still don’t have service, and no one’s calling them to explain why,” said Barnes.
Authority member Tim Layne said if SCS Broadband is unable to respond effectively to customer demand because they don’t have enough staff, they should say so.
The authority agreed to meet for a work session on Jan. 15 to discuss an upcoming presentation to the board of supervisors where they will make their case for more funding. Members would like to help the county expand its network of fiber-optic lines, which they consider the gold standard for providing high-speed internet service.