The city of Longview is lagging other cities in access to broadband internet service, a new report suggests.
Longview is the 7,280th most connected of 26,868 cities in the United States, according to BroadbandNow.com, an Austin firm that says its mission is to help consumers find broadband service.
Longview's rank compares with Marshall at 6,928th, Tyler at 7,862nd and Kilgore at 9,754th.
BroadbandNow data indicates 88.5 percent of Longview residents are wired.
Tony Doria, executive vice president of Network Communications, a Longview company that provides fiber optic internet service to businesses, said the report contains inaccurate or outdated data and other information he couldn't verify.
For instance, BroadbandNow.com said 22 internet providers serve Longview, including eight specializing in business. Doria said Longview has only three major providers: Network Communications, Longview Cable and AT&T.
"They describe their data gathering method," Doria said. "It's limited in scope."
In response, BroadbandNow.com customer success representative Ana de castro said, "The information we have was submitted by the FCC."
She said some of the information might be a year old.
Wayne Mansfield, president and CEO of the Longview Economic Development Corp.. said in a statement that he found some information in the report "a bit confusing."
For instance, one page states fiber optic coverage for Longview and Gregg County is zero percent while another indicates 20.4 percent fiber optic coverage (all from Network Communications).
However, Mansfield agreed with BroadbandNow.com about the importance of reliable broadband service in attracting businesses and stimulating economic development.
He said LEDCO several years ago partnered with Network Communications to provide internet service via fiber optic cable to both of the Longview business parks LEDCO oversees. Other companies in recent years have moved toward wireless service, he added.
"I do believe internet service is critical as part of the overall business infrastructure, but it certainly is market driven, not a 'build it and they will come' scenario," Mansfield said.
The cost to provide fiber optic cable to an area or site can be "extremely expensive," he said, without the provider having customers in place to recover the costs.
Doria agreed. He said fiber optic cable costs $50,000 a mile just to to install, but is 10 to 100 times faster than data transmitted over copper wire or via coaxial cable. He could not verify BroadbandNow's claim that the average download speed in Longview is 16.42 megabits per second, which would make it 152.6 percent slower than the state average of 41.48 Mbps.
BroadbandNow.com says, "The U.S. continues to trail behind many other nations when it comes to broadband penetration and access speeds. We still have 874,222 Americans without access to ANY broadband (3 Mbps or higher) connection, even wireless."
De castro said that if providers would like to submit information for the study, they may do so via the dashboard at BroadbandNow.com.