Commission gets broadband update

The Washington County Board of Commissioners was updated Thursday morning on progress of the Southeast Ohio Broadband Cooperative.

David Brown, cooperative founding member, said upgrading the infrastructure to connect tower to tower is 70% complete. The west side of the network is in place and “up and running.”

He said the focus now is on the east side of the network. There are two drops out Ohio 26, one at Woodcrest and one at the Lawrence School.

“We have connected the Little Muskingum Fire Department and we have put up a public wifi connection that is available in the parking lot of either the school or the fire department,” Brown said. “We also have our first customer connected to that repeater system that far out in Dart. That’s movement in the right direction.”

He said connections are being made as fast as they can.

“God bless them, they’re out there regardless of the weather,” Brown said. “It’s 20 degrees and freezing and these guys are out there climbing towers and antennas.”

He said they need to do the east side infrastructure, which will take broadband out to Lower Salem and Whipple.

“We have a tower going up in Whipple that should be going online in four to six weeks,” he said.

The cooperative is also putting up a tower as part of a project for Frontier schools. A tower is going up in St. Marys, W.Va., which will connect Newport and New Matamoras.

He said older technology from Marietta to Beverly is insufficient for the needs of not only the tower, but the county home.

“So the resolution to this involved a stethoscope, a machete and a backpack blower.”

Brown said he and a few volunteers went up on the Cisler tower and tracked the original conduit from the MARCS facility into the woods. He said they used a stethoscope to ping every pipe to see where there might be a vibration.

They disconnected the cap on the conduit, put the backpack blower into a 3-inch conduit and started it up to see where leaves and debris exited the pipe.

“We needed the machete to cut through some of the briars to get to where the conduit is, some 200 yards from the facility, but we found it. And we had a lot of fun doing it, too,” Brown said.

He said they are putting up repeater station towers in Adams Township and “we’re hanging our equipment and away we go.”

They are so busy, they could use five more people, but they can’t afford to hire that many people right now, he said.

“It’s one of those you’ve got to build it up and you get enough subscribers so you can hire another body, then you build it up again and you hire another body. We do this because we’re a cooperative and not for profit, so we have to stay at a net neutral level,” Brown said

Commissioner Jamie Booth said the cooperative is also operating debt free, which Brown confirmed.

He said it was going a little slower than they would like, but “it’s one of those, you’ve got to do it in stages.”

Michele Newbanks can be reached at



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