When the superintendent of Utah schools announced last month that school would go online for at least a few weeks, Emery Telcom said it would provide a free internet connection to any Grand County family with a child in school, as long as the family was in their service area and wasn’t already an Emery customer.
Emery Telcom did not immediately answer an inquiry about how many customers have taken advantage of the offer since it was initially made. State maps suggest that most Moab families would have been in the company’s service area and therefore eligible for the program.
Some families, however, are not so lucky. Although Emery’s service — the fastest available to Moabites — is pervasive locally, the network cannot currently reach all Spanish Valley households, and it does not reach Castle Valley or Thompson Springs. Additionally, only Emery’s highest-end package comes without data capping in Moab.
In the valley, Emery’s fiber-based internet services do not reach households on Murphy Lane, Powerhouse Lane, Roberts Drive or other roads farther from the highway. Many of these families therefore have no options for uncapped, broadband internet.
These households are left to pick between fixed wireless internet service through River Canyon Wireless, mobile wireless internet, satellite internet via providers like HughestNet, or DSL via Frontier Communications.
While some of these providers offer broadband connections in some places, none of them match the 1 Gbps (or 1000 Mbps) maximum speeds that Emery offers. Sometimes even, these company’s packages are more expensive than Emery’s gigabit offering despite being slower and capped.
Frontier has the next widest service area in Grand County after Emery. Frontier offers internet service without data caps via DSL hookups to the home. Frontier offers packages with maximum speeds of up to 45 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload, which are well slower than Emery’s offerings but faster than the wireless alternatives, according to state data.
The next most widely available service is fixed wireless service via River Canyons Wireless, the only such provider in the valley, according to state data. Although River Canyon can connect residents from most places in the valley, there are households it cannot reach, and its services do not meet broadband standards, offering a maximum download speed of 15 Mbps and upload speed of up to 3 Mbps.
Mobile cell service via Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon is the next most widely available. Such services typically limit the amount of data that non-mobile devices can use or have service throttling after a certain usage quota is reached. The speeds offered by the companies are generally 20 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload or faster in populated areas, according to state data.
The most widely available option for internet service in Grand County is satellite internet service. HughesNet, a satellite internet provider popular in Castle Valley, advertises basic broadband speeds of up to 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Its plans limit customers to a monthly data usage of between 10 and 50 GB, depending on the package. The advantage is that satellite internet services are available virtually anywhere, wherever the sky is visible.