Philip Terry is known to excel in many fields. He is a talented wood carver, a master of the age-old art of bonsai, an expert sound man, and a veteran of the Viet Nam War. But what caused the crew at Joe Wheeler EMC to notice his fluency in “computer speak” were the tech savvy questions he asked as they were running some lines into his home. In other words, the man is a computer geek, not just your run of the mill computer geek, but one of such knowledge of the tech world that the people installing the new broad band fiber-optic system in the county asked him to help them in running some trial procedures for them. “At first they would call me and ask what I was seeing or what happened if they did certain things from their control space,” Terry explained. “Now we have pretty much gotten the glitches taken care of.”
Terry and a few other families in the East Lawrence vicinity are referred to by the JWEMC crew as ‘friendlies.’ They are helping to perfect the new system that will eventually be offered to the entire county.
According to Michael Cornelison, Director of Communications at Joe Wheeler EMC, “The goal of FlashFiber is to provide a fast, economical, and reliable internet service to areas with few options and little competition. Any profits made from FlashFiber will go back into the business to help keep cost low.”
But that’s not all. Hang onto your hat!
When fully functional, the system will touch the lives of most all Lawrence County residents who have cable TV or a computer. According to Terry, the system will be run into your home in much the same manner as your cable is now. From the pole outside it will come into the house and connect to a modem, then to a router, like Wi-Fi does now.
“Data rate is measured in mega bytes, “Terry explained carefully. “It takes one million bytes of data to equal one megabyte, and this is how they measure how fast data travels.”
Over your head yet? Read on…
According to Terry, if you think of it like this it will help you to understand the speed which will be available with this new system. “One gigabyte is equal to 1,000 megabytes, per second. One gig is a billion bytes (or 1,000 million) per second. In other words, it’s almost instantaneous."
“Band width affects the rate of speed that information can be transferred to your computer, it’s the little round circle that you see, indicating that your computer is transferring data,” Terry described.
“As far as what we have currently in LC as far as carriers go, a lot of them have up to six megabytes, some will go up 100 too but that’s still not enough,” Terry emphasized. “If there are two people playing games in your home, another using the computer for homework and another watching a movie, then their system will slow down to try to accommodate the load, when it does this you’ll probably recall seeing a little circle or perhaps an hourglass, spinning around. This is when there aren’t enough megabytes to go around, so your computer is ‘searching’ for ways to accommodate everyone. Even then the movie picture might be grainy and the video games will slow down,” said Terry.
But all of that has changed for him. “You know the little circle that goes around and around, also known as buffering, well, I don’t have that anymore,” he said. “With it people will have almost immediate access to the fastest system in history.”
As opposed to the six megabytes we were discussing, the carriers who promised six but mostly delivered less than six if more than one person was using the computer simultaneously. “The carriers that promised 100 megabytes also fell short of their promise. They only delivered about half that,” Terry said.
FlashFiber pledges to make gig-speed internet available to each consumer who signs up for the new system. After seeing such giant steps toward making this a reality, Terry is convinced that FlashFiber can and will deliver as promised.
What will this be like, in layman’s terms? For the average computer user, say a housewife and mother who makes appointments, pays bills and saves recipes and photos, this will be the equivalent of going from cooking a family dinner on a hot plate to cooking it on a modern four-burner electric oven.
Let that sink in a minute…
For the average non-tech savvy consumer, like your eight year old, or your retired mom, wife or whoever uses your computer or watches the television, this system won’t delay them when they play games, stream live shows, or maybe they are writing song lyrics using a computer, it won’t slow it down a bit, no matter how many devices are in use inside the house at the same time. “You won’t even know it,” explained Terry.
If you edit your photos online, or look up recipes, do a class assignment that involves researching something, you won’t have to wait for your computer to catch up when it goes out into cyber space looking for what you need. It will be there practically before you blink. “You’ll get all of this in a fraction of the time,” said Terry confidently.
“One of the most demanding things, power wise, that you can use in your home system is watching a 4K, high definition movie. Now the rate of speed will increase so much that it will be possible to have people in every room all watching on their own computer or TV, and none of them will experience buffering anymore," Terry said. “Right now, with your old system it might take you over an hour to download a high definition two-hour movie. With the new broadband you will be able to do it in minutes.”
Terry suggests that it will be great for people with a business. For home usage you will probably see the most obvious changes in how much quicker your video games are, and how you can watch movies with no interruptions like buffering. Professionals who attend Zoom meetings will have a much more satisfactory experience.
According to Michael Cornelison, FlashFiber internet is currently being installed in the Caddo/Trinity area of Lawrence County and should be available in the Moulton area by the end of the year. “FlashFiber offers three residential speed packages: 300 Mbps for $59.95, 1 Gbps for $79.95, and 2 Gbps for $99.95. All new installations will also receive an Amazon Firestick (while supplies last). They also offer a home phone service and a full selection of business options.”
“This is a very exciting time for the members of Joe Wheeler EMC,” said Cornelison. “They have waited long enough to have access to true high-speed internet and FlashFiber is going to put Lawrence and Morgan counties on the map.”
Anyone interested in receiving FlashFiber service can visit jwflash.com or call 256-567-4140.