Hurry up and wait.
That’s pretty much what some residents of Rhodes Lane have been doing for several years, according to Bonnie and Tyler Moody, a mother and son, who have been living at 16111 N. Rhodes Lane since March 2015.
“We never thought there wouldn’t be Internet out there,” Bonnie said, noting that she and her husband, Thomas, purchased the home on a foreclosure sale in 2015. County records state that the sales price was $451,000 for the 5-bedroom, 5 1/2-bath home of 3,343 square feet that was built in 2007 on 6.4 acres.
One mile of Rhodes Lane with 21 homes is currently unserved by Comcast, according to a complaint that Tyler filed with the Better Business Bureau on March 15.
Moody said he was initially quoted a price of $14,000 by Comcast to install cable TV/Internet service to the home. Tyler said he agreed to the price, was given an order number and requested a written contract. Tyler said he called the company numerous times over the next few weeks, but didn’t hear back from the company until more than three months later. At that time, Tyler said he was told that the old price was no longer valid because 90 days had passed and that the new price was $23,788.
In an April 8 reply from Comcast representative Miranda Jessup that is part of the BBB complaint, she offered four options serving three, seven, eight or 21 homes at an average connection cost per home of $8,233, $5,571, $4,120 and $3,765, respectively.
Tyler said those quotes did not contain enough information about installation.
“Chesterfield County has almost 400,000 residents. According to the 2017 [American Community Survey], 17 percent don’t have access to broadband,” Bonnie said.
Tyler said the family has Internet service from a satellite and from his Verizon phone and can check email and social media, but is pretty limited beyond that.
It’s not the first time that Rhodes Lane residents have tried to get Internet service, the Moodys said. Earlier efforts fizzled after residents decided to wait on Comcast.
Matoaca District supervisor Steve Elswick said the county has a franchise agreement with Comcast for cable TV, and notes there is no requirement that the company provide Internet service to its customers. He said the county is currently negotiating with Comcast to update the agreement, and that assistant county attorney Michael Chernau is involved in the process.
Tyler Moody provided what he said was the original franchise document between the county and Comcast, which was dated 1995. He said he obtained it from Chernau through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The county ordinance requires Comcast to offer cable TV service if an area has 25 homes per mile, Tyler said.
He addressed the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors on April 10. During public comment, he called the situation “technological discrimination at its worst” and asked, “Why should we be penalized for where we live, especially since this is supposed to be one of the most progressive counties in the state?”
The Virginia General Assembly recently passed HB 2691, which House Speaker Kirk Cox described as a pilot program in an email to Bonnie Moody.
The bill, which Gov. Ralph Northam signed March 19, requires the State Corporation Commission to establish pilot programs under which Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power may submit a petition to provide or make available broadband capacity to nongovernmental Internet service providers in areas of the state that are unserved by broadband. The costs of Dominion Power and Appalachian Power’s proposals are each capped at $60 million annually.
The law goes into effect July 1.