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New wireless carrier coming to Atmore

Point Broadband has already installed power boxes at the base of two local water towers.

Officials of a Georgia-based internet service provider announced last week that the company had entered into an agreement that will provide within the next several weeks an alternative outlet for local and area users of electronic data.

“We are excited to announce that we have entered into an agreement with West Escambia Utilities for access to their towers so we can provide high-speed internet service to the residents of Atmore,” Point Broadband CEO Todd Holt said in a press release. “We will begin the necessary installation work in the next few weeks to provide service.”

Holt revealed that the new wireless carrier should begin accepting subscriptions and providing service to the area by mid-July.

“As we get closer to the launch date we will announce the specific service areas and pricing options,” he said.

WEU General Manager Kenny Smith confirmed that the deal was struck with the communications company for rental of space atop three local water towers for “repeaters,” antennas that help extend a signal beyond its normal range.

“We have four tanks here in town and we classify them by the street that they’re on,” said Smith. “We have Trammell Street, which is behind Church’s Chicken; we have Lindberg, which is behind the high school; we have Carpet, which is just across from Masland Carpet, and we have one that we call Fillmore, which is across from Rachel Patterson (Elementary) School. (Point Broadband) has signed an agreement to pay $50 a month (each) to lease space on three of our tanks for their towers.”

The utilities manager said the company, which specializes in providing broadband service to underserved rural areas and areas in which such service is not otherwise available, would probably utilize only two of the three local water tanks covered by the lease agreement (Fillmore is not included), at least for a while after service is established.

“I don’t know that they’ll put something on all three of them to begin with,” he said. “They may want to wait and see what kind of coverage they get before putting up another one, but they’ve already set up electrical panel boxes at Trammell and Lindberg.”

Smith said he wasn’t “tech-savvy” enough to discuss the fine points of Point Broadband’s proposed service or its equipment, but added that he and others have been told by company officials that the signal would vary from area to area, at least in the beginning.

“Talking with them, and I don’t understand a lot about this, this is wireless so it goes out like an umbrella,” he explained. “Some of the ranges we were told was that it does real good, real close, say within a mile or two. And line-of-site can reach out as far as 10 miles.”

The company CEO said in a recent interview with Gulf Coast News Today that the process of finding tower space for the company’s equipment had gone well in several cities, towns and communities in Baldwin County, including Bay Minette, Fairhope, Daphne, Loxley, Robertsdale and Summerville.

In a story that appeared in the April 28 edition of The Baldwin Times, Holt said that Baldwin County would probably become the flagship community for the planned expansion of Point Broadband service into Alabama. The company is also expanding its business operations into the southern portions of Georgia and Mississippi.

He also promised in that article that Point Broadband would differ from other competitors in the area by having brick and mortar buildings, along with increased customer service.

“We picked a great technology, so we’ve got a solid product we’re going to back up with great customer service,” he said. “We’re going to be the local broadband company. We want that presence in the county, places where people can stop by and talk with us directly and know they can come if they have questions or issues.”

The company has also created a community involvement program under which some of their yearly profits are distributed through grants to local charities. The grant recipients will be decided by subscribers.

“We’re a faith-based organization ourselves, so we want to take 10 percent of our cash profit every year to donate to local charities that our customers will help us pick,” said Holt. “We want to find a way to give back to the community because we want to be a part of the community.”

Smith said that was one of the most attractive parts of the deal.

“I think the city is working on a list of choices,” he said. “The customers will narrow it down to just a few, maybe even just one, that are really helpful to the community. That’s one of the things everybody liked about the contract.”

He concluded by stating his opinion that the new wireless service should be capable of delivering on its promises while at the same time benefiting the community.

“Supposedly, it will give citizens another option,” he said. “One of the things we wanted this for was for the citizens. (The company is) selling data, and what you do with it is up to you. It’s supposed to be fast-enough data – and I’m not going to comment on the speed because I don’t know enough to know what I’m talking about – but if you wanted to run your telephone from it, you could do that. If you wanted to stream videos, or Netflix, or things of that nature, you can do that. All I know is they’re a reputable company and they’re financially stable.”

Those interested in finding out more about Point Broadband may visit the company website, point-broadband.com.