Cavendish Telecommunications Survey: Preliminary Findings

From November 15-30, Cavendish Connects conducted an on-line survey about Internet, cell and landline service. Of the 97 respondents 80% were full time Cavendish residents and 17% second home owners. All parts of town were represented in the survey.

Regarding satisfaction with existing services, on a scale of one to five, with 1 being poor, 2-Not Great, 3-Okay, 4-Good and 5-Excellent, the average rating for landline service was 3.99, 2.92 for Internet and 2.12 for cell phone. Thought it had the worse rating, there were few comments about cell phone service, which were summed up best by one respondent, Phone service on cell stinks. Always have to resort to landline or go outside.

 TDS was the largest provider of Internet service 54% (51 respondents) with Comcast a distant second with 26% (24 respondents). Other providers were as follows: VTel 6 respondents; Satellite (including Wild Blue) 3;  hotspot from mobile carrier 3; Dish 2; and one respondent uses Excede as well as Vtel

The most frequent use of the Internet for all respondents was checking e-mail-93%, followed by making purchases-88% , and staying informed (news)-81%. TDS users were more likely to use the Internet for their home business (38%) and video streaming 63% then other respondents.

 The most written comments pertained to Internet service, with TDS receiving a majority of them. Fifty eight percent (58%) of TDS subscribers rated the service “poor” or “not great,” and 42% indicated that their Internet service was impeded daily/constantly, while 28% found their service impeded weekly. The comments about TDS focused on slow speeds, routers not working properly, that the situation is getting worse instead of better and how the situation was significantly impacting the ability to telecommute or maintain a home business.

Comments about Vtel were mixed with several complaining about the high start up costs and others indicating that the service is not as advertised. Only one comment was made about Comcast Internet, where 75% of subscribers rated it good or excellent.

With telecommuting and home based business the two fastest growing segments of the workforce, it was important to understand how the Internet was impacting this area. While one telecommuter was pleased with their set up, noting they purchased their home from someone that was also a telecommuter, another respondent noted, Lost a sale of home due to inadequate business Internet services.

Unfortunately, there are home-based business owners, who can’t relocate here. The lack of adequate, reliable and reasonably-priced telecommunication services (internet and mobile) prevents us from moving to Cavendish full-time. I have a home-based business that requires me to be reliably on-line and available, and this is simply not possible in Cavendish.  There are others that have moved here and now regret it. Our Internet speed has steadily worsened over the last several months; I'm attempting to work from home but it's becoming increasingly more difficult. Had we known that the Internet would be so spotty here we would have potentially purchased a home in another town nearby with better access. I feel limited in what I can accomplish working from home.

 Even commuting to a job has become problematic as noted by one respondent, I am a physician at Dartmouth. I am on overnight call from home regularly. This involves speaking with residents throughout the night about patient care, and signing the resident notes in a timely manner. I am unable to reliably take call from home, because I don't have a reliable Internet connection. This means I have to stay at a hotel in Hanover, NH when I am on call. Essentially, a physician who takes call from home cannot buy a home in Cavendish, unless they are willing to stay regularly at a hotel in a town that has good Internet service.

The need for better service was a common them, which was summed by the respondent who wrote,, Reliable and fast Internet is the backbone of a productive life. No matter what field one is in, a good Internet connection is essential to achieving personal and professional goals.

 The Cavendish Telecommunications survey has found that Internet and cell service are a) inadequate, problematic and town wide; and b) adversely impacting the town’s economic future.