Rural Cable Expectations

My story kind of hit social media hard this week. To say it caught me off guard is an understatement. I never in a million years expected the response to be so big. I’m just some guy, I don’t particularly enjoy all the attention suddenly paid to my problem. But, that said, I’m grateful for all the support and tips I’ve received, and I’m investigating all connectivity options.

One of the frequent criticisms I’ve seen goes something like this: “Well, you moved to a rural area, what did you expect? Even though Comcast said it was serviced, you share some of the blame for even expecting cable out there. You should have known better!”

Well, I disagree pretty strongly with this criticism. Let me tell you why.

Here’s a picture of where I grew up. It’s in rural Connecticut, about a half hour east of Hartford. The whole “neighborhood” (if you can call it that) had cable TV as of 1988. Please note, too, that many of the homes you see to the north weren’t built until the late 1990s and early 2000s, so the area was even less dense then than it is now.

Rural Connecticut

Cable broadband came to this area later, of course. It wasn’t installed there until about 2000, when the infrastructure was upgraded to allow DOCSIS. My aunt lives there now, she has great 25 Mbit broadband through Cox. So, yes, frankly, I did expect that cable could be here.

And what about now, today, in Washington State? Here’s another satellite view of part of Kitsap county, the county I live in.

Less Rural Washington

Here is where it gets weird. Notice the fairly dense neighborhood to the north of the highway? That area is completely unserviced. Comcast’s internal maps, which I have seen, show that the whole neighborhood is wired with Comcast cable. But, in reality, it’s not. There’s no cable there, Comcast has no customers there.

Meanwhile, the road to the south, which is more rural, with a mix of houses on 5 acre lots and farm land, is fully wired for Comcast.

So, yes, I did expect that cable would be a thing that this part of the county could do. It is not that unusual here. In fact, the neighborhood to the north is an exception, not the rule.

But all that should not distract from the core problem, here: Comcast told me that my address was already serviced. That is what I relied on, not some mystical third eye that could show me underground Cable TV infrastructure.

7 thoughts on “Rural Cable Expectations”

  1. Not only do I think that you did everything you could have to reasonably make sure there was cable available, but I totally disagree with the haters’ notion that rural areas shouldn’t expect decent internet service. Broadband is quickly moving from luxury to necessity (I’d argue that it already has) and the idea that folks in rural areas don’t need/deserve it is ridiculous.

    I hope you’re able to find a solution that lets you stay in your house, not just because it’s a nice house, but because I think it’s important that folks be able to get decent internet access even if they choose not to live in the middle of a dense city or overdeveloped suburb. Good luck!

  2. I had nearly the same experience as you. I was considering purchasing a house in Kitsap County (Port Orchard), and broadband service was a necessity. The house had cable to it, split inside the house, one tagged marked “internet”, the rest “cable”. The lines were new-ish, with clear printed tags, not a DIY setup. The Comcast web site indicated there was service to my house. I contacted Comcast, and confirmed they provided access. I called back a second time and re-confirmed before putting in an offer.

    So I purchased the house (I hope you like your house as much as I like mine).

    The day Comcast was supposed to hook up cable I got a call. The technician was recalled, because there was no service to the house. Comcast offered to look into it. I think “feasibility survey” was the term they used. They said it could take up to 6 months to find out if service was possible. For me, the house was useless without broadband. I wanted to talk to someone in person, and got a sinking feeling, as it appeared their nearest service center was in Olympia.

    Fortunately for me a quick search pointed toward Wave Broadband (who I hadn’t heard of before). The drama was over in a few days when Wave kept their appointment. FWIW, you seem to be taking this much better than I did. Only blind luck separates us. I cannot offer suggestions, only empathy.

    And to others a warning: I don’t know how to determine with certainty that you can get broadband before buying a house, but Comcast is not to be trusted.

  3. I live in the same area (other side of 307) and am in a similar situation to you. I just bought my house recently, although I knew I didn’t have cable service (even though my house is wired for it). My street does however get serviced by CenturyLink but its the worst broadband I’ve ever used and often resort to tethering over LTE ($$). I really hope we get something better up here some day and will check back periodically to see if you’ve found a better solution. I’ll share any updates I get as well.

  4. We have a similar problem in Walkersville Maryland…our road has no cable but all around us does. We were Netflix/Hulu junkies at our old house which is 30 min north of here and was in a culdesac but miles from a real highway. Now we live in a farmhouse right next to a major highway and minutes from the increasingly urban Frederick Md but no Comcast, no Verizon, no able of any sort here. Feeling frustrated, in an increasingly connected world it is a real problem.

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