High-speed Internet access will be a possibility for parts of Vance, Granville, and Franklin counties in North Carolina as early as September.
After two years of planning, county officials will soon select the wireless provider and discuss project funding. If Vance County Commissioners approve the proposed funding in the budget this summer, rural broadband could be available to customers by the end of the year.
Henderson, with a dense city population, has high-speed service, but beyond the edges of the city, access disparities are stark.
“High-speed broadband access is becoming increasingly essential for access to education, access to health care, civic engagement, economic participation and entertainment,” a news release from Vance County stated. “Many rural counties in North Carolina have many citizens stuck in the broadband slow lane. Citizens and businesses are either limited to accessing service at the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 10 Mbps download/1 Mpbs upload minimum definition of broadband or somewhere below this level.”
Officials from the local, state, and federal levels all agree: Access is imperative.
On Monday, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., General Assembly members, and federal broadband funders gathered in Granville County to discuss ways to fast-track broadband access to unserviced rural areas across the state. With a combined effort, they intend to make North Carolina a model on how to tackle this issue.
During the round table discussion held at the Creedmoor location of Vance-Granville Community College, legislators shared the need for economic incentive to service providers and the necessity of high-speed Internet access for businesses to compete in a growing market.
“I’m proud of North Carolina, you’ve been working on this for a while,” Tillis said. “It truly is something that has transcended administrations, so this is not a partisan priority thing. This is something we’ve been building on for several years.
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