Windstream’s Berkshire presents internet plan at March 10 coffee

Big Canoe residents filled the Mountains Grille to learn more about Kinetic, the premiere internet service now offered by Windstream. Photo by Barbara Schneider.

Jarrod (“J”) Berkshire, president of operations for Windstream Georgia talked about improved internet service to a full Mountains Grille room at the Saturday, March 10 Community Coffee.

“The work will start Wednesday, March 14,” Berkshire said, as he explained Windstream’s plan to provide improved, faster-speed internet service—its new Kinetic premium service brand—to the community.

Windstream will upgrade its existing cable system in Big Canoe—both the Dawson and Pickens sides—with the exception of 10 streets that don’t have the Windstream cable system installed at this time.

On Jan. 15, 2018 the POA board and Windstream mutually agreed that Windstream would proceed with the upgrade project without any financial assistance from the POA or requiring advance subscriptions from property owners.

“We contacted the POA board and [POA’s] internet task force in Sept. 2017 to resolve issues. We met with the task force to discuss what we could do to really make a difference,” Berkshire said.

“The project will upgrade internet service and provide better, reliable service for this community. Over the past year Windstream has made major investments and provided this service to Dahlonega in Lumpkin and Dawsonville in Dawson counties. State Sen. [Steve] Gooch is one of our customers in Dahlonega,” he noted.

Windstream will offer a combination of fiber to nodes then coaxial cable (coax) to homes. Coaxial cable–the same type of platform as Xfinity and Comcast—is commonly used by cable operators, telephone companies, and internet providers to convey data, video, and voice communications to customers. It has also been used extensively within homes.

“Windstream is placing approximately four miles of fiber optic cable in several locations in Big Canoe. Overall placement of coax and fiber will total about 55,000 feet which is about 10 miles total,” LaQuilla Porter, Windstream consultant, wrote in a Tuesday, March 12 email to Smoke Signals.

“Our goal is to complete laying fiber optic” to each existing node and adding five additional nodes by the end of 2018. Then coax to the house. Pricing, Berkshire said, will be “competitive” but was not announced at the meeting.

There will be bundled—phone/TV/Internet—offerings in Dawson County but TV/ internet only offered in Pickens due to government restrictions.

“We will be offering three tiers of download service: 25, 50 and100 Mbps,” he said. “We expect 5, 10 15 Mbps upload speeds should be available to Big Canoe as we roll out the service.”

Berkshire said his team “wants to communicate well with this community; we know we haven’t in the past and we want to change that. We will tell you about work being done and where inside Big Canoe.

“When we start on March 14, there will be a lot of work to do and a lot—the engineering studies for example—is already done. This is a beautiful, beautiful development but it is a big rock. It will be messy.”

Canton-based Gibson Technical Service (GTS) will be doing all the work. GTS worked with Windstream in Hiawassee, Young Harris, Dawsonville, Lakes and Dahlonega, according to Porter.

Jon Martin, chief operating office of Gibson Technical Service (GTS), talked about what residents should expect. “There will be a little bit of a mess. Our team knows what to expect—minus the rock,” he joked. “There will be backhoes and trucks along the way that can slow traffic,” he added.

“Big Canoe will have its challenges,” said Martin. “The water lines here are going to be a tough challenge. They are PVC. They are hard to locate. We don’t know how deep or where they run. We will need to know where the shut-off valves are.”

Construction is planned in four phases. Windstream will provide a map to the POA to send out to residents so everyone knows where construction is scheduled.

“We are going to try to complete this in 2018. Pending weather and rain, we will try our best to stay on schedule,” Berkshire said. Windstream will have another meeting with the community when construction is completed, he said.

Smoke Signals Weekly will update this article as information becomes available. Look for a more detailed article in Smoke Signals April print issue.

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