Competing for Coverage in Remote Utah

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While some regions hunger for any broadband outreach, others have multiple options, each with their advantages and pitfalls. The Times-Independent reports on choices made by residents of Moah, UT and how they are handling the digital tidal wave of  online schooling created by the pandemic.

When Utah closed its school buildings in response to COVID-19, the superintendent of schools announced that free internet service would be available through ISP provider, Emery Telecom. The offer extended to Grand County families within the service area, including those who were not already Emery subscribers.

According to Emery, many families did respond to this offer, though no numbers were provided. However, not all residents are within an Emery service area. Other locations are within Emery’s service grid, but only if residents elect the most expensive plan. 

Emery has fiber-based internet services in some Moab neighborhoods, but the connection does not extend beyond certain streets. Customers that are able to access Emery service can obtain 1 Gbps (or 1000 Mbps) maximum speeds for their internet connection. While a handful of carriers offer coverage in neighborhoods Emery can’t reach, they cannot match Emery’s connection speeds.

Frontier, for example, has speeds of up to 45 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload, and is the second largest carrier in Moab. River Canyons Wireless has fixed wireless offerings that remote households can use, but services max out at a download speed of 15 Mbps and upload speed of up to 3 Mbps. 

Mobile cell service is an option for other families, though service throttling, data usage limits, and slow speeds are reported. HughesNet offers satellite internet service, which has the advantage of being available to more households, though it too has limitations. Customers of HughesNet are held to a monthly data usage of between 10 and 50 GB, and broadband speeds of up to 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.  

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