It’s Wednesday so let’s rant.
I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed and I don’t know a gigabyte from an overbite, but one thing is certain:
The internet coverage in this county is awful. Truly terrible.
The Just Wright Citrus World Headquarters on the shores of Big Lake Henderson is two blocks from the Courthouse in beautiful downtown Inverness. The seat of county government. A city packed with businesses and citizens.
And horrible tech service.
I ran across some interesting data that said 96% of Citrus County has access to broadband. That seems rather high based on actual experience. My house in downtown Inverness is part of the 4% without. Yeah, that figures.
Even though I have an odd-ball internet provider (don’t ask), each day is a blind journey through the broadband wormhole. Some days, no problem. Others, I might as well be trying to access Facebook from a cave in the Withlacoochee State Forest.
I don’t like griping about technology because there’s nothing I can do about it. And I don’t understand enough to even suggest ideas.
This email to the county commission from an 26-year Inverness resident sums it up nicely:
“I am very concerned about the growth of our county and the lack of the county doing anything to encourage proper cell service in an area of this size.
It is shameful that we can go in town and cannot get cell service on our phones. Access to cell service is part of the infrastructure of any town. I believe we pay enough taxes that you should be doing something about that as a priority.
None of us should have to use questionable Wi-Fi from the stores in order to get service on our phones. It is time that the county…encourages phone service and towers adequate for this area.
“We all have been patient about this for years and it is time you FIX this problem with incentives to companies and towers to correct the problem.”
County people have been talking about the lack of internet and cell service in this county for years. I recall at least two former commissioners who campaigned on extending broadband in Citrus County.
The state is providing hundreds of millions of dollars to bring broadband to dozens of rural communities. Citrus received $1.245 million to install 311 miles of fiber optic cable in the unincorporated northeast and northwest parts of the county that will serve nearly 5,000 homes and businesses.
That’s great news for our friends in places like the Mini-Farms and Arrowhead, who certainly need it.
But what about Inverness?
Look, I’m not pointing fingers. And for all I know the powers that be are already on this and I'm not aware of it.
— The Courthouse in a technology tomb. Forget about getting a cell call in or out. Or text messages. Whenever I’m attending a county commission meeting, I need to go outside to the parking lot to make a phone call. As for the internet, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
— Inverness itself is a mixed bag. I’m just outside Wallace Brooks Park and at any moment I have service. Driving earlier through town, I stopped at a red light. Went to check something on my phone and nothing.
— When I say Inverness is a mixed bag, what I mean is a mix of bad or worse. Totally unreliable.
— Not sure whose bailiwick this falls under. The county’s economic development office, I guess. Though I would think the Inverness city government plays a role too.
— Few things drive me buggier than people who say, “Someone’s got to do something!” Except in this case. Someone’s got to do something. I don’t know who, I don’t know how. Not a clue how any of this works.
— As this county grows in population and businesses, the cell/internet issue will only get worse. Plus all those RVs tapping in.
— I spend an extraordinary time on the internet, researching this and that. My business is internet-based. I’m small potatoes but it’s not that way for everybody. I’d be pulling my hair out if the spotty internet cost me money.
— Took me about 45 minutes to write this blog. Took another two hours for the internet to cooperate enough to post it. At 8:30 p.m. Must be gobs of people online clogging up the system.
That’s it. No more rant for today. See you tomorrow. I hope.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.