Satellite dishes providing internet for Benn’s Grant residents

Published 2:12 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2017

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Many Benn’s Grant houses have a lawn fixture — a satellite dish.

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Some houses have two — one for internet and the other for cable television.

Although more than 90 housing contracts were written last year, Charter Communications has yet to provide service to the new neighborhood, located south of Smithfield on Route 10.

East West Communities Developer Branch Lawson said the latest word from Charter is that fiber is being laid and service is expected in two phases of the development by the first part of March.

Meanwhile, residents are finding ways to cope before the service begins. 

Shannon Jones wanted a satellite dish, but since she lives in a middle town house, that wasn’t going to happen.

The dish would have to go on the roof, and it was too tall for an employee to install, she said. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

So as she and her family wait for Charter, they’re using a Verizon hot spot, but that is proving to be an expensive addition to their cell phone bill, she said.

Jones said she was cheered by the sight of orange fiber cable covers near the entrance to the development.

A Charter representative told Lawson that the node is in place and a power supply cabinet is set up but the company had run into a delay due to locating utilities. Indeed, there are multi-colored flags and marks on the ground throughout the neighborhood.

Devon Avery and his family moved in last July and signed up with HughesNet, which provides internet via a satellite dish.

Avery said he’s OK with the delay, but said he and his neighbors are eagerly looking forward to Charter becoming available.

HughesNet is slow and the image breaks up a lot, Avery said.

Plan prices range from $39.99 to $69.99 a month for 24 months and do not include cable television. DirectTV charges from $50 to $125 a month for cable television and requires a 24-month agreement.

Charter’s plans range from $29.99 to $69.99 a month for cable, internet and phone service for 12 months.

Isle of Wight County’s 10-year franchise agreement with Charter, signed in 2012, deals specifically with cable television and not internet service. Internet service is available from Charter as a “bundled” feature, but is not specifically addressed in the contract with Isle of Wight County.

According to Charter’s contract, cable television service must be provided to areas with at least 30 houses per mile.

Benn’s Grant is approved for 280 single-family homes, 40 townhouses and 240 apartments, as well as retail space.  {/mprestriction}