Mayor issues statement on downtown broadband

Published 6:09 pm Friday, December 20, 2019

During a meeting Tuesday, the Selma City Council discussed downtown wireless internet service, which council members largely criticized for continually disconnecting users and, in general, not functioning properly.

Council members state that representatives from Black Belt Technologies, the company responsible for installing the service, might be called to explain the issues at a future meeting.

Following a report of that meeting in The Selma Times-Journal, Selma Mayor Darrio Melton released a statement asserting that the service is working “by design” and slamming the council  for standing in the way of his “progressive broadband initiative.”

According to Melton’s statement, the downtown wireless network only has a bandwidth of 10 megabytes per second.

Further, the downtown service has an activity timer set to one hour in order to limit the amount of time people can spend on the network.

“It was designed for tourism and not businesses,” Melton said in the statement. “Most tourists are not constantly sitting on the network.”

Melton noted that the downtown wireless network has a business option that will allow for longer time online.

Beyond simply explaining areas of confusion regarding downtown wireless service, Melton also took the council to task for having “consistently resisted and fought the progressive broadband initiative plan for the city.”

“They have not only fought with words, but they have done so by having no budget in place for the increase in internet service requirement,” Melton said in the statement. “Ten megabytes of bandwidth is not standard at homes anymore and additional bandwidth is required to provide adequate service.”

Further, Melton claimed in the statement that the internet service downtown has created a new source of funding for the city.

“The [mayor’s] office has actually created an additional revenue stream for the city, but the council will have to demonstrate political courage to capitalize from the potential this service can provide for businesses and city revenues,” Melton said in the statement. “The city welcomes a debate on the merits of the design. As mayor, I am confident in the plan we have laid out and the services that Black Belt Technologies [has] provided for the city broadband initiative.”