Internet access is a problem for businesses
by Laura Camper
Dec 05, 2013 | 1416 views |  0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Smith Farms located on exit 205 is one of the businesses that is having problems with Internet service. Photo: Misty Pointer/The Cleburne News
Smith Farms located on exit 205 is one of the businesses that is having problems with Internet service. Photo: Misty Pointer/The Cleburne News
High-speed Internet service should soon be available to businesses near the intersection of Alabama 46 and Interstate 20, and it can’t come soon enough for businesses already there.

Smith Farms, a new store in the city of Heflin’s improvement district near the intersection, is having problems with its Internet service, said Tanya Maloney, executive director of the Cleburne County Chamber of Commerce, at Tuesday’s meeting of the Heflin Industrial Development Board.

“We’re not batting a thousand with Smith Farms right now,” Maloney said. Smith Farms owner Rodger Turner declined to comment on the issues Wednesday.

Dean Argo, government relations manager for the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which has a store next to Smith Farms, said the stores use the Internet to process credit cards and checks, and to keep track of inventory. Orders and information from distributors come by email. In addition, all the ABC stores report the information from the store each day to the ABC Board at closing time by Internet.

“We’ve come to rely more and more on technology,” Argo said. “When you have an issue that affects the Internet, it could cause you to slow down sales or even stop sales.”

Argo was unable to confirm whether the Heflin store had problems with its Internet service. But he did say the store’s computer systems have backups to prevent lost information.

“All of the information that is gathered that day is still there when the Internet is restored,” Argo said.

The city of Heflin became aware of the Internet problems in the Alabama 46 and I-20 area about a week ago, said Mayor Rudy Rooks. The city has been working to solve the problem because it wants to be able to attract more businesses to the area in and around the industrial park, Rooks said.

Internet access is central to businesses today, and the city will do whatever it can to provide that connection, Rooks said. “Infrastructure used to be water, sewer and roads,” Rooks said. “Now you have to have reliable Internet.”

Maloney agreed.

“We’re going to lose business if we don’t have something as simple as the Internet out there,” Maloney said.

It looks like the problem may be solved sooner than later. CenturyLink, an Internet provider in the area, is working on getting high-speed Internet service to that location, according to Carmen Butler, the company’s market development manager for Alabama and North Florida. Butler was unsure how long the company has been working toward providing highspeed Internet service at that location or what infrastructure was needed to provide it, but said it should be available in the next 30 to 60 days.

“It’s part of our network planning process,” Butler said.

Another solution might be satellite-based Internet service.

Professional Broadband Solutions, based in Whitesburg, Ga., is a dealer for HughesNet, a satellite Internet service. Scott Baker, co-owner of the company, said the service doesn’t need digital subscriber lines.

“You just need to have a clear view of the Southern sky,” Baker said.

He installs about 300 systems a month in Alabama and Georgia, Baker added.

Stateline Fuel Center uses a satellite-based Internet system offered through BP, and has had success with it, said Laura Cobb, manager of the service station off I-20 on Alabama 46.

Staff writer Laura Camper 256-463-2872. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.
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