Broadband in WNC Community Development Digital Citizenship Digital Inclusion Economic Development Internet Privacy Security

Digital Citizenship

What are the Attitudes & Behaviors Around the Internet?

The pandemic has dramatically changed the world, making our lives more digital and changing our attitudes and behaviors around the internet.

Jaya Baloo, Chief Information Security Officer at Avast

How has COVID-19 impacted digital activity? What are the key global findings?

  • Many people will continue to stay online.
  • The internet has been more educational.
  • As online populations grow, so do data project concerns around privacy and security.
  • Lack of understanding and knowledge about digital literacy remain high.
  • Dating sports classes, and banking moved to the online world in greater numbers.

Portrait of a Digital Citizen defines digital citizenship as “a person who develops the skills and knowledge to effectively use the internet and other digital technology, especially in order to participate responsibly in social and civic activities.”

At the core of digital citizenship, privacy is a top and growing topic.

Please contact a member of the WNC Broadband Project Leadership Team to share your thoughts on the importance of the internet.

Local groups including the ‘Experienced Workforce Initiative’ or Asheville 50+ Works are seeing more and more people become internet converts with video conferencing, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other platforms.

The ‘Digital Literacy Network’ of Buncombe County started in June of 2021 and has seen 2000+ website hits in itself.

The internet has grown to become an indispensable tool to help everyone maintain normal lives with educational, employment, social, and telemedicine thanks to high speed internet.

Give back to your Western North Carolina community by volunteering and stewarding digital literacy among your friends, family, and organizations.

The Future of Cybersecurity Education. Security Boulevard. Published September 16, 2021. Accessed September 20, 2021.

Ookla Speed Test

Broadband Speed Matters

Latency, Download, and Upload Speeds Matter for Important Internet Use

When video is part of your internet experience, speed matters.

  • Doctors need fast dependable speed to transfer imagery files including X-rays
  • Students and teachers need sufficient broadband speed for remote education video environments
  • Business individual need plenty of broadband when leading a video conference to many individuals

Local Library ‘Study Room’ Resource

In Buncombe County, most libraries have a ‘study room’ for private and audible meetings. The newest area library, East Asheville Public Library has two meeting-study rooms that can comfortably seat up to 4 people. Both study rooms also have table-tops with available power and video cabling to connect a laptop to a large wall-mounted monitor.

East Asheville Public Library Study Room #1

Ookla Speedtesting

In the YouTube recording below, Marc documents the East Asheville Public Library ping, download, and upload speeds using the desktop web browser speed test:

Call and reserve a study room with your Buncombe County Library card. You will be please with this free, available resource.

East Asheville Public Library information on Google Maps

Get the address, phone number, and directions to the East Asheville Public Library on Google Maps:

Book A Larger Meeting Room at a Library

Larger library meeting rooms for community groups and organizations are also available at most Buncombe County Libraries.

There are meeting rooms at the following libraries:

  • Pack Memorial
  • Black Mountain
  • Swannanoa
  • South Buncombe/Skyland
  • Weaverville
  • West Asheville
  • Fairview
  • Enka-Candler
  • Leicester
  • North Asheville
  • East Asheville

Meeting room details for Buncombe County Libraries.

MORE on WNC Broadband

Please contact a member of the WNC Broadband Project Leadership Team with any questions or comments.

Broadband as a Utility Broadband funding Municipalities

Broadband As A Utility

Municipal Internet Service Throughout WNC?

WRAL calls out Wilson North Carolina as a model for municipal broadband as a utility similar to electricity and water. Could this model work in Western North Carolina communities?

How could the details of infrastructure funding play into how high-speed internet is made available for all of Western North Carolina? Could it favor rural areas over cities?

Please contact a member of the WNC Broadband Project Leadership Team with thoughts or comments.

Brown M. Internet funding rule could favor rural areas over cities. Published September 12, 2021. Accessed September 15, 2021.

Jodi Leese Glusco. WRAL Documentary: Disconnected. Published March 16, 2020. Accessed September 15, 2021.

Advocacy Affordability Broadband Availability Buncombe Cable Cloud Digital Inequality Digital Literacy DSL Fiber Fixed Wireless Broadband Latency Microsoft OneDrive Telecom Industry

No DSL – Cable, Fiber, Fixed Wireless, or Satellite?

What is next when the DSL copper internet service is stopped?

Recently I helped a rural Buncombe County resident of 60+ years with a questions about ‘unexpected errors and messages’ she was receiving while working on her bookkeeping desktop computer.

The Excel spreadsheet occasionally created ‘auto-recovered’ versions that confused her. Then she could not find the file on her local computer’s file system.

Noteworthy: Excel will attempt to autosave and create a recovery version of a file if unexpected computer system events occur, like a power failure or closing the computer without saving a file.

Additionally Microsoft was defaulting to save files to ‘OneDrive’ or Microsoft’s cloud storage instead of the local computer.

Cloud or ‘OneDrive’ file storage needs dependable internet. If your internet speeds are of DSL copper wire or wireless latency, you have less confidence of a timely remote cloud-server save.

Microsoft OneDrive is the Cloud

If you have an older computer and DSL speeds, saving a file the the cloud can be questionable if you are in a hurry. Slow download, upload, and latency can create uncertainty.

Additionally, if the system is trying to protect your local file by putting it to the cloud and you don’t know that ‘OneDrive’ is the cloud; your file could become orphaned from your workflows.

Fiber Broadband 12-Month Promotion

As it turns out, the client’s home had recent street-side digging of a fiber installation. Soon after, the client received a letter offering to get a ‘500Mbps speed’ service for $45 per month for up to 12 months.

The client claimed “$5 higher per month than her current service” from the same major provider.

Features and Benefits of AT&T 500Mbps speed

This client has several major features and benefits with fiber, including these listed on AT&T’s website:

  • 500Mbps equal upload and download speeds
  • Faster speed and more bandwidth for the always connected household
  • 20x faster upload speeds than cable
  • Power even more devices so everyone can enjoy their own screen
  • AT&T Internet Security included

What the promotional USPS promotional letter did NOT Indicate:

  • How much do you pay for monthly fiber broadband service after 12 months?
  • What are the taxes and equipment fees?

AT&T Shelving DSL

In October of 2020 AT&T indicated they would start shelving DSL.

“We’re beginning to phase out outdated services like DSL and new orders for the service will no longer be supported after October 1,” a corporate statement sent beforehand read.

“Current DSL customers will be able to continue their existing service or where possible upgrade to our 100% fiber network.”

USA Today’s Rob Pegoraro 2020

Monopolistic Fiber Broadband

This client has 5 options:

  1. Stop copper DSL internet (and phone service) and leverage there cell phones.
  2. Upgrade to cable internet.
  3. Investigate wireless home internet options (slower and less dependable internet than cable)
  4. Consider satellite connectivity, low-earth orbit
  5. Purchase fiber broadband service from the one and only provider in their area

The consumer has no ability easily to benchmark or compare internet service provider pricing options. Likely, the one-year plus pricing for fiber service will be much higher than $45 per month.

Reasonable and Protective-Pricing

Although this client appears to have the financial means to upgrade to fiber, who is advocating for reasonable and protective pricing schemes for this elderly client?

  • What happens to neighbors that may not have the financial ability to pay for upgraded fiber?
  • Who provides credible and secure digital education specific to the user’s needs?
  • What happens to the client’s service if the DSL service fails?
  • Who advocates for the not-so-current digital tech user?

“AT&T Fiber – Unlimited Internet Data | AT&T Internet.” 2021. AT&T. 2021.

“Understanding Internet Speeds.” 2020. AT&T. 2020.

Pegoraro, Rob. 2020. “AT&T Shelving DSL May Leave Hundreds of Thousands Hanging by a Phone Line.” USA TODAY. USA TODAY. October 3, 2020.

Basics Broadband access Broadband funding Broadband Technology Economic Development Haywood County

Haywood County Broadband Committee Activity Report

The Haywood County Broadband Committee and Economic Development teams have shared an annual activity report of their July 2020 – June 2021 broadband committee work.

Learn more about Haywood County’s:

  • broadband data mapping
  • state and federal grants
  • community-property/individual locations
  • new broadband technologies and challenges
  • future work

Questions regarding this report should be directed to

A-B Tech Broadband in WNC Western Carolina Rescue Ministries

A Short Broadband Story: The Tech Enablers

Fixed or wireless broadband provides growth opportunities for those that can access, afford, and understand how to effectively use the internet.

At the core of internet use is email and search. If an individual does not have a learning environment of available internet, learning marketable skills becomes much harder.

Additionally, a portable computer like a smartphone or laptop does not need to have a lot of expensive hard-drive space, thanks to the cloud. The cloud provides untold storage and application opportunities; provided you have broadband to maintain the operating system and app updates.

A Basic Cloud Computer: the Chromebook

A Chromebook is a budget-friendly alternative to a Windows laptop or MacBook.

A-B Tech Continuing Education Instructor Marc Czarnecki - 'Chromebook is easy to use and inexpensive'

A-B Tech Continuing Education Adjunct Instructor Marc Czarnecki – ‘Chromebook is secure, easy to use, and inexpensive laptop’

Chromebooks run on the Google operating system Chrome Operating System. The Chrome web browser is the only browser available to use; which means it securely compliments the Google app ecosystem including:

  • Gmail
  • Contacts
  • Calendar
  • Drive
    • Docs
    • Sheets
    • Slides
    • Forms
    • Sites
    • Drawings
    • Maps
  • YouTube
  • and many more…

Community Tech Enablers

Thanks to community enablers like Western Carolina Rescue Ministries (WCRM) and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (A-B Tech), a remote classroom is available with fast, dependable Wi-Fi broadband.

On August 30th, Executive Director and Pastor at WCRM praised the 7th graduation cohort of their A-B Tech Chromebook class graduates. Students were engaged with 2 months, 8 weeks, 24 classes, 36 credit-hours of computer basics around the Chromebook and the Chrome web browser. Many students leveraged Gmail and Google Drive while using the Chromebooks during class.

Maria Spadaro, Director of Workforce Continuing Education at A-B Tech Community College awarded certificates; including Rodney, CJ, and Misty.

A-B Tech CE Adjunct Marc Czarnecki proudly shares the certificate awarded to Chromebook 101 class graduate, Misty

“Committing and learning are important skills for everybody.”

Michael Woods, Executive Director at WCRM

Community Digital Assets

What other community broadband and digital assets does Western North Carolina have?

Please contact your WNC Digital Navigator Marc Czarnecki, Web Tech Czar and share your WNC broadband stories by:

Broadband in WNC North Carolina Satellite Starlink

Satellite Broadband Alternative

Starlink in North Carolina

When an individual or business needs high-speed internet beyond a copper wire or DSL, there is cable and fiber. But what if your community is not served by terrestrial internet? Starlink enters as a consideration for future connectivity.

Low Earth Orbit Satellites

LEO or low earth orbit satellites are notable because when compared to traditional satellite internet service providers, improved latency is a major benefit. Latency is the time it takes for data to be transferred between its source and its destination, measured in milliseconds. So having a satellite closer to earth has the attractive feature of being more responsive in sending and receiving internet data.

North Carolina Starlink Service

WRAL Tech Wire reports Starlink opportunities are being implemented in Eastern North Carolina (see the article linked below).

Starlink in WNC

Our Western North Carolina Broadband leadership team is eager to hear personal stories of Starlink in our mountainous region.

Please email your WNC Starlink comments our leadership group at

More About Starlink

Scroll through our articles about the category of Starlink.

“Tired of Broadband Choices? Elon Musk’s Starlink Offers Alternative | WRAL TechWire.” 2021. WRAL TechWire. September 6, 2021.

Broadband access Digital Inequality Fiber Watauga

Watauga County

$7 Million Project Building Out Fiber-Optic Internet Access to Underserved Areas

We salute the growth of quality broadband to the underserved areas of Watauga County North Carolina.

The lack of high-speed internet access in the High Country has been one of the things that the COVID-19 pandemic has uncovered, especially with lots of folks moving to the area and finding out that large, rural parts of the county do not have access to high-speed internet. – Nathan Ham

Fiber is the future-proof solution!

Watauga County Commissioners Approve $7 Million Project Building Out Fiber-Optic Internet Access to Underserved Areas of the County. High Country Press. Published August 20, 2021. Accessed September 4, 2021.

Broadband access Broadband funding Buncombe COVID 19 Local Fiscal Recovery Funding

Improving Broadband Access in Buncombe

Increasing Vaccinations, Improving Broadband Access, & Supporting Affordable Housing for the Unsheltered: Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Addresses Pandemic, Systemic Needs for Buncombe

Buncombe County is poised to make significant strides in expanding broadband accessibility, supporting affordable housing for the unsheltered, and increasing access to early childhood education, all while continuing to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and increase vaccination rates across the County. On Aug. 31, the Board of Commissioners approved the initial slate of $11.3 million for County investment projects that meet community needs head-on. The Buncombe County Commissioners envision this as the first in a series of rounds of COVID Recovery Funding projects will help with short- and long-term goals while addressing ongoing pandemic-related needs across Buncombe County.

These vital projects are drawing from some of the $50 million in federal funding aimed at addressing primary and peripheral issues caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic. In deciding which projects to immediately prioritize, Commissioners evaluated nearly 150 project proposals along with more than 7,600 survey responses from the public.

Commission Chair Brownie Newman says these projects not only address issues caused by the pandemic, but also help the County gain significant ground on the 2025 Strategic Plan: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meaningfully and intentionally move the needle on multiple projects of community interest. We believe that this is a strong first step in a series of funding rounds that will have lasting impact by addressing issues like homelessness, internet access, and early childhood education. The Commission evaluated many strong proposals and fully anticipates funding additional projects under a rolling award process.”

The following are a few highlights of the projects Commissioners approved as part of the $11.4 million on the Tuesday, Aug. 31 agenda:

  • $1,543,714 for COVID-19 support, including vaccinations.
  • $500,000 for small business assistance via One Buncombe small business grants.
  • $300,000 for small business assistance through the Center for Agricultural and Food Entrepreneurship.
  • $4,000,000 to expand broadband infrastructure in unserved areas.
  • $419,309 for early education to be facilitated by the Verner Center for Early Learning.
  • An additional $1,000,000 to help provide housing for the homeless via Homeward Bound WNC. This adds to the $2,000,000 that was approved by Commissioners on Aug. 3.

County Commissioners will continue working on the next round of Local Fiscal Recovery Funding using the same methodology while being intentional about public input, equity, and identifying projects that further our Buncombe 2025 Strategic Plan Goals.

If you or anyone you know are struggling to pay your rent, mortgage, or utilities, Buncombe County’s COVID Housing Assistance Program may be able to help. Click here for more information.

Follow along at Buncombe County’s COVID recovery funding

I am super excited that the county is planning to invest $4 million of our National Recovery Fund resources towards this great project, as we discussed and voted on at our Commission meeting.

As I understand it, our $4 million investment has the potential to help leverage an additional $4 million from North Carolina and around $2 million in private sector funding for a total project of $10 million.

This will be a significant step forward for our community.

I’m grateful for your leadership on these efforts.

Brownie Newman, Buncombe County Commissioner email to Dr William Sederburg, Chair of the WNC Broadband Project