Eastern Shore brings internet services to E.C.

061618 Internet Company
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Eastern Shore Communications Vice President of Business Development Donald Imhoff (right) and William Griffin-Kirkley, sales and government relations intern, discuss the new internet technology that they are bringing into the area.

061618 Internet Company

By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A new internet provider is finally up and running in Elizabeth City

Eastern Shore Communications is now serving city residents and the City of Elizabeth City is its first business customer, Eastern Shore Vice President of Business Development Donald Imhoff said this week.

The company is offering residential customers one-year service contracts, with monthly costs ranging from about $25 to $75 a month, depending on speed and including a $5 monthly maintenance fee, based on rates he provided.

It's exciting to be serving customers in Elizabeth City now, Imhoff said. Eastern Shore, of Cape Charles, Va., proposed partnering with the city more than two years ago to offer internet service. They struck a deal allowing Eastern Shore to install transceiving equipment on the city's water towers, allowing it to beam out internet at lower costs, while the company agreed to share revenues with the city.

In approving the deal, city officials hoped Eastern Shore would bring competition to the market and make it easier for households to get high-speed internet needed for work and education, not just play.

Though it took Eastern Shores months longer than expected to get its network up and running, city officials remain strong supporters. That's evidenced in part by City Councilor Billy Caudle becoming the company's first customer in Elizabeth City.

“It does really well,” Caudle said of the service, which Eastern Shore set up for him on Tuesday. He said it took the company about an hour to install wireless receiving equipment at his house, and the network has been fast and reliable since. It's streamed YouTube videos and worked with his Smart TV just fine, he said.

Caudle also said he welcomed a new internet provider to the city, noting it had been served by CenturyLink and Spectrum.

City Manager Rich Olson said Friday the city itself has signed up for 1 Gigabit-per-second service, which will be much faster than its current service and give room for more bandwidth use in the future. Eastern Shore will serve the city through a fiber connection, rather than wireless service, to ensure that higher speed.

Acknowledging Eastern Shore has encountered delays, Olson said he felt the company had worked to the best of its ability to get its service running, and kept in good communication with the city. He also said the company sometimes had to work through obstacles from legacy providers.

Imhoff said Eastern Shore offers not only internet service, but also telephone and TV service. However, he noted internet users could sign up for Sling TV, rather than Dish TV, which would allow them to watch cable channels through the internet. Sling TV is a separate streaming service similar to Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.

Imhoff also said the company, which opened with little fanfare, is planning a formal ribbon-cutting in the near future.

“We're ready to go,” he said.

City residents interested in signing up for Eastern Shore's service will need to have wireless antennas installed at their homes. Renters will need their landlords' permission. The installation costs $125, and a monthly maintenance fee of $5 covers problems or equipment replacement, if needed.

The cheapest residential service package is $20 a month, offering speeds of 10 Megabits per second for light internet usage, such as web browsing, checking email and doing homework. Other residential packages include run from $40 a month for 25 Mbps to $70 for 60 Mbps, which Eastern Shore calls “the best value for families and heavy internet users.”

Imhoff also said Eastern Shore's prices for business customers vary depending on the customer's needs, including whether they want a wired connection. Business customers generally need higher download and upload speeds.

Notably, CenturyLink last year touted offering faster speeds than Eastern Shore, although its service is limited by how close someone is to a fiber line. For instance, quotes on CenturyLink's website this week offered speeds of up to 100 Mbps for $60 a month at the Stockbridge subdivision, but on Herrington Road, only up to 25 Mbps for $45 a month.

As for Spectrum, quotes on its website offered speeds of up to 100 Mbps for $45 a month.