Wildwood, MO is an outer lying suburb of St. Louis, MO. While much of the town is served by internet service providers like Charter Communications and AT&T U-Verse, some of the more rural parts of Wildwood are, as of yet, not served by any high speed internet provider beyond the rural satellite internet provider HughesNet.
That is about to change, as the Wildwood City Council voted unanimously on February 11 to purchase up to 16 utility poles to extend high speed internet service to its residents.
More from the Newsmagazine Network:
The installation of the poles is essential to receiving the signals from the two wireless Internet service providers, Bays-ET and Wisper ISP, from their backhaul locations, so as to distribute it to the participating households in the unserved areas of Wildwood.
Sixteen potential locations have been determined to be sufficient to meet the area’s needs.
Some councilmembers were concerned about making a decision about the purchase of the poles without knowing all of the details ahead of time.
“I get it. You want Internet. We want to give it to you,” Councilmember Tammy Shea (Ward 3) said. “But I think it’s reckless to go forward without a certain amount of detail.
She cited a specific example that could cause a conflict.
“You don’t want a pole because it’s going to block your aesthetic view while your neighbor wants Internet and is prevented from selling his home,” Shea said. “So we have to reconcile that.”
However, some residents said they just want the city to move forward and have the city work out the details later.
“The issue of who pays for the poles in the long term and other things like that are not necessary to be decided today to get us under way,” resident David Barry said. “What is needed is to get started toward what we desperately need, which is high-speed Internet access.”
Resident Jay Kappmeier said “there will always be another ‘I’ to dot and another ‘T’ to cross.”
“Meanwhile, you’ve got citizens out there doing without Internet,” Kappmeier said.
Sam Mulcahy, a student, said his entire physics textbook is online and he cannot access it without Internet.
“There are so many things that I can’t participate in because of this lack of Internet access,” Mulcahy said.
Other residents were uneasy about poles being installed on their property without their say in the matter. Josh Wagner said his parents bought their property more than 25 years ago and does not want their aesthetic view to be taken away from them.
“Everybody here lives in the woods, and we want to get away from the sight of telephone poles and street lights and such,” Wagner said. “We like to be tucked away.”
But Joe Vujnich, director of planning and parks, said the city is “not going to put a pole on your property if you don’t want it.”
An additional question debated among the Council consisted of the city’s recoupment, but Councilmember Colleen Rull (Ward 6) said the Rural Internet Access Committee “does not want anyone to be hung up on recoupment.”
“If moving this forward means that we need to put a recoupment model in place, I know the committee is on board to do that,” Rull said.
She made a motion to approve the purchase of the utility poles with an agreement that the Rural Internet Access Committee would come forward with a recoupment model or models to present to the city, and the Council approved.
Connection to high speed internet is important, and hopefully this measure moves quickly for the residents of Wildwood.