For those of us that live in cities and even most towns, relatively quick Internet access is commonplace - so much so that we probably take it for granted. But, there are still people living in rural areas who struggle to get modern Internet connections and have to make do with things like, gasp, dial-up.
Just look at Jesse Walser. He and his family live in a secluded area in the town of Pompey, New York. Time Warner Cable is the only Internet provider working in the area and its lines are about a third of a mile from Walser's house. So, in order to connect Walser, the company is charging $20,000. You read that right, $20,000!
Time Warner Cable’s (TWC) lines are a third of a mile from Walser’s house, and the company has received more than $10 million in state funding to bring broadband to underserved portions of New York over the past two years. But the company (which will be purchased by Comcast if the government approves the merger) told Walser they won’t do the construction unless he pays more than $20,000. That’s just to reimburse TWC for its troubles—the monthly access bill would be on top of that.
When Walser needed phone service to his house, Verizon charged him a reasonable $250 to set it up. He wanted to get Internet service from Verizon, too, but his house was too far away from Verizon's Internet lines.
And, he's not alone. About 5% of Americans live in areas without wired Internet service.
Walser isn't opposed to paying Time Warner to connect his house to the Internet. After all, he did pay Verizon to set up phone service and also spent a couple hundred dollars to connect electricity.
"I would pay $1,000 for a fiber-to-the-home installation that promised cutting edge speeds without batting an eye—OK, maybe a small flinch," he said. But not $20,000. “I didn’t think it would be that difficult, because the cable was on my road. I have phone. I have electricity. It’s not completely Green Acres. I don’t have to go up to the pole to make a call. I didn’t think it would be a problem.”
He doesn't seem out of line when you consider New York's state government has paid Time Warner millions of dollars over the past few years to bring Internet access to rural communities.
Right now, Walser and his family are using a $90 cellular hotspot plan to get Internet access. But, that's not a great solution because it's capped 20 GB per month - that's more than some families use just on their smartphones!
The situation might get worse before it gets better for the Walsers. Comcast is trying to buy Time Warner right now, and we all know how bad their customer service can be.