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Maybe we are finally getting somewhere

Halleluiah, glory be and a giant Mazel Tov to City of Washington mayor Donald Sadler and other city leaders for finally trying to do something about Suddenlink’s service-or lack of it. It also appears that a local heavyweight has hopped into the ring. More on that later.

In case you missed it in our last issue or online, Mayor Sadler joined the Tarboro and New Bern mayors in writing a letter on city stationary to state Attorney General Josh Stein asking him to do something about Suddenlink’s poor overall service.

Citizen response has been overwhelmingly positive as folks are tired of dealing with repeated service outages, repeated promises to make repairs, long wait times etc. It seems like all of us who have suffered with Suddenlink have a story to tell.

According to reports over the weekend, the city of Greenville is ready to lend its support and influence to the movement, which should cause a reaction from somebody in Raleigh. At least one would hope. Mayor P.J. Connelly acknowledged many citizens have contacted him about poor service.

According to the AG’s spokeswoman, the office received 336 complaints about Suddenlink in 2020. They don’t serve the entire state, so almost one a day is a decent response, but I think I know 336 people who have had issues.

Here’s what you can do for now. Pick up your phone and dial 1-877-566-7226 to add your complaint to the list. If you’d rather do it online, go to ncdoj.gov/complaint. By the way, there is an I Hate Suddenlink Communications Facebook page that has over 5,700 members. Some of the stories are unbelievable, but I digress.

All the city leaders agree that competition is the best (maybe the only) way to get any companies attention. The City of Wilson built their own fiber network 10 years ago, but the General Assembly passed a law barring other communities from doing the same under heavy pressure from cable lobbyists. Connelly and Washington’s city manager Jonathan Russell opined that changes to House Bill 129 that suppressed competition are needed to help the situation.

I don’t know that our city or any other needs to be in the cable/internet business, but I do know that competition is always a good thing. Suddenlink knows their customers here don’t have a real choice, so why should they do anything?

Speaking of competition, the Greenville City Council is voting soon on a memorandum of understanding with a company called Metronet to build a network that will provide voice, video and internet service. Sounds like it will take a while, but good for them. Don’t be afraid to look east. Yoo-hoo, here we are.

Meanwhile, folks in the eastern part of the county around Belhaven speak very highly of RiverStreet Networks.  Their service is not available in Washington just yet, but maybe something can be done to entice them. They don’t provide TV service, but streaming is a viable option.

Mayor Sadler said big movements start small and he’s right. Tarboro mayor Joe Pitt wrote the first letter and three more communities have followed within three weeks. Our state representative Keith Kidwell posted online that he would like to talk to a Suddenlink rep to see how service can improve. Reliable, reasonably priced internet service is a necessity now and there should be more than one provider in a region where customers can get internet and cable services.  Here’s hoping something good comes from all this letter-writing and pontificating. Let’s also hope Suddenlink hears our collective voice and improves their service. By the way, besides congratulations, Mazel Tov also means good luck. We need plenty of that in this situation as well.