Highland County Is Getting Faster Internet Service

Monterey, VA – Faster internet service will be coming to Highland County soon.

During the November 21 meeting of the Highland County Economic Development Authority, board member David Smith discussed new DSL packages being offered by internet provider MGW. Smith tells board chairman Betty Mitchell about the upgraded service.

“Well, it’s a new computer service,” he said. “It’s going to be faster service; a lot of technical stuff and educational programs. We’ve all gotten brochures; we got notices on it. You’ve got a choice of different – gold, platinum – oh, there’s several of them; a lot greater speeds. The higher up, obviously you go, the higher it costs you. They still have the $49 program, but they give you a seven dollar credit now.”

Mitchell asked the technology committee to give a briefing on the upgraded service. Smith said he would gather more information to present at future meetings.

Ryan Smith, vice-president of MGW Networks, confirmed that DSL customers in Highland County and other areas would be receiving a service upgrade. Smith said all customers would be receiving a complimentary speed boost. As an example, Smith said customers receiving 1 megabit per second (mps) service would be upgraded to 1.5 megabit service, at no cost.

The vice president added that faster DSL service will also be available, at higher cost. Three mps service will cost $59 per month, and five mps service will cost $69 per month. MGW DSL customers who also have MGW telephone service will get a seven dollar discount on their DSL package.

Broadband internet providers are coming under increasing scrutiny for the service they provide in rural areas. An American University study completed earlier this year revealed that broadband customers in suburban areas pay between 10 and 15 dollars per month for every megabit per second of service, whereas rural customers pay more than $30 for every megabit per second.

In other matters, Mitchell told the board she had requested a price quote from the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development for assistance with developing a Highland County strategic economic development plan. The chairperson says she will provide reports from the tourism and technology sub-committees, once they are completed, to help the group develop their proposal.

“I think it’s best we wait until we have both of those, in draft form, that we can pass along to the group, so that they can see the groundwork that has been laid and take that into account, rather than, kind of, reinventing the wheel.”

Mitchell said she had attended a conference in Roanoke last month to learn about economic gardening – a concept to grow existing businesses, as opposed to attracting new businesses. The chairperson discusses the goal of the concept.

“We’re supposed to go out and look at recruiting businesses, appreciate the businesses that are in your community, and see if there aren’t ways that you can help them grow, and try to identify groups of people that can help them network,” she said. “Whether it’s finding financing to lots of things that would be needed by small businesses and start-ups. Kind of taking it to that next level of giving more support to them.”

Mitchell says conference attendees from Floyd County had contacted her to learn more about an economic gardening project in Highland County – the Highland Agricultural Center.

“They actually called me because they heard about the Ag Center and they’re interested in doing more with their local foods and doing more value-adds,” she said. They’re looking at it, specifically, in terms of some dairy farmers that they have in their area.”

Mitchell said members of Floyd County group Sustain Floyd had invited Highland County EDA members to visit to discuss economic gardening ideas. The chairperson said she would try to arrange a visit and asked EDA members to look at Sustain Floyd’s website at www.sustainfloyd.com.

The next meeting of the Highland Economic Development Authority is scheduled for January 10, 7 p.m. at the Highland Center.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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