THURMAN - Affordable high-speed Internet service may be coming to Athol, and it will likely offer a dramatic boost to both education and economic development, town Supervisor Red Pitkin said Monday.
Pitkin has heard that Verizon is now working to upgrade their remote terminal in Athol to offer DSL Internet service to Verizon land-line telephone customers within a three-mile radius, he said.
The first stage of upgrades - expected by early November - will initially support up to 96 DSL customers, with the capacity of another 96 available several weeks later.
"This is vital infrastructure for the economies of rural communities," Pitkin said Monday. "Whether it's the marketing of craft businesses or kids taking college courses over the Internet, a lot of good things will happen with upgrades to our Internet service."
Many Thurman residents can now connect to the Internet via satellite, but such service can be interrupted by cloud cover or storms. It also is not inexpensive, costing customers about $90 per month.
In contrast, DSL is generally available at about $40 per month for the highest 3-megabyte service, and about $20 for the 1-megabyte version.
Authorities said Monday that the slowest DSL, the 1-megabyte version, is 15-times faster than 56-kilobyte dial-up service, which most Thurman residents use. The 3-megabyte edition is about 45 times faster.
The speed of data transmission, however, decreases in relation to the distance from the terminal.
Pitkin, who owns a construction enterprise, said the introduction of DSL service will make a remarkable difference in conducting business online. He noted that high speed Internet service is vital to various local businesses, like Nettle Meadow Goat Farm which sells its cheese nationally to individuals and various outlets.
"Often, when I try to download something, I get bumped off before the process is completed," he said, noting that many businesses in Thurman can't conduct a viable, efficient transactions over the Internet because of a lack of fast digital access. "Dial-up moves at snail speed."