Richard Kallaus said "it looks like there’s light at the end of the tunnel” regarding high speed Internet access in , but some residents aren’t so sure.
Kallaus, who chairs the city’s Rural Internet Access Committee, is optimistic. A total of six Internet service providers responded to the city’s Request for Information on how they might solve the long-term problem of how to provide cost-effective service to a mostly rural area. The "unwired" part of Wildwood is home to about 3,000 people.
At a meeting Thursday night, however, residents of the area weren’t as upbeat. The audience of about 20 was disappointed with the breakdown of discussions with Charter Communications to expand the company’s cable network, which led to the city contacting other providers.
The six companies offered a range of ideas to overcome what one called the “extreme installations” needed to serve the area. They ranged from full installations of fiber optic cable to full wireless service and combinations of the two.
Many in the audience had carefully read the companies’ documents and were prepared with detailed questions and criticisms.
- Would a wireless provider need to build excessively tall towers?
- Could a fiber optic provider possibly build a network in a reasonable amount of time?
Kallaus pointed out the city doesn’t want to “over-eliminate” potential providers at this point.
The committee hopes at least two finalists will emerge from the group of providers. Finalists will be asked to build a small pilot project in an area roughly bordered by Highway T (St. Albans Road), Interstate 44, the Franklin County line and and .
The six Internet providers who responded to the city include:
- Bays ET , located in Pacific
- MicroNet, Evansville, IN
- Pulse Broadband, St. Louis
- Saint Louis Broadband, St. Louis
- Socket, Columbia, Mo
- Wisper Wireless Internet, Belleville, Il
Wildwood has posted the providers' responses on the city's website.
The committee will meet on Aug. 8 to refine its selection criteria.