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BEAD Program NC Rural Center NCDIT NTIA-National Telecommunications and Information Administration Susan Mims

NC Rural Center receives grant from Dogwood Health Trust to expand broadband in WNC

“The timing of this grant could not come at a more important time in North Carolina,” said Patrick Woodie, President and CEO of the Rural Center. “Properly advising and engaging our rural communities and broadband service providers will help assure no one is behind in a globally connected economy.”

Patrick Woodie

“Broadband access has an impact in every one of Dogwood Health Trust’s strategic priority areas – housing, education, economic opportunity and health and wellness,” said Dogwood CEO Dr. Susan Mims. “The issue of access, especially in rural areas, is something that no single organization can address alone, so we are delighted to support the expansion of this collaborative approach in Western North Carolina.”

Susan Mims

North Carolina will get $1.5 billion from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NITA) Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program funding.

The State of North Carolina is also managing several other initiatives that will improve broadband coverage, digital equity and digital literacy.

Internet Work From Home (WFH)

NC Households with Internet Access – NC Ranks #37

How does North Carolina ranks so high as a business friendly state, being ranked #37 in a state comparison of ‘Households with internet access?’

How much stronger could our business workforce become with more homes being connected to the internet?


2023 State Comparisons — NC OSBM. Published 2023. Accessed July 27, 2023.

Digital Communication Employment Entertainment NDIA Small Business

Why Does Everybody Need Internet for Modern Life?

Not everyone technically “needs” the internet, but it’s become a critical component of many aspects of modern life and is therefore considered a necessity by many people.

Here are several reasons why everybody should have internet:

  1. Communication: The internet provides numerous platforms (like email, social media, messaging apps) that make communication instantaneous, efficient, and inexpensive. It allows us to keep in touch with people from all around the world.
  2. Information Access: The internet is a vast storehouse of information. With it, you can learn about nearly any subject, research different viewpoints, and stay updated on current events. It’s also a vital tool for education, with many courses and learning resources available online.
  3. Work and Business: Many businesses and jobs rely on the internet for their operation. Remote work, online advertising, digital sales, and e-commerce are just a few examples. Many companies use cloud-based tools and services that are accessed via the internet.
  4. Entertainment: The internet provides a myriad of entertainment options, including streaming video, music, video games, and social media. It’s also a platform for sharing and creating content, such as blogs, podcasts, and videos.
  5. Services: Many essential services have moved online. This includes banking, shopping, booking appointments, renewing documents, and more. The internet makes these tasks more convenient, saving time and effort.
  6. Community and Socializing: The internet allows people to connect with communities of like-minded individuals, join discussions about topics they’re interested in, and participate in social activities and events.
  7. Innovation: The internet continues to spur innovation, creating new technologies, applications, and ways of doing things that enhance our lives.

It is important to note that internet access is still not universal.

Many people in remote or impoverished areas do not have reliable internet access, which can lead to a “digital divide” that exacerbates social and economic inequalities.

Become a broadband advocate. Consider stewarding your communities with digital literacy and device access.

Digital Inclusion 101 – National Digital Inclusion Alliance. National Digital Inclusion Alliance. Published June 5, 2023. Accessed July 27, 2023.

Community Development Digital Literacy Digital Navigator

Harnessing the Power of Connection: The Role of a Community Digital Navigator

The advent of the digital age brought with it a slew of technological advancements that have fundamentally altered how we connect, work, and engage with the world around us. Yet, these changes have not been uniformly accessible to everyone. A digital divide persists, separating individuals and communities with ample digital access and skills from those who lack these resources. As the world continues to grow increasingly digitized, this chasm widens, creating not just an information gap, but a social and economic one as well. This is where the role of a Community Digital Navigator becomes crucial.

Community Digital Navigators are individuals who work at the heart of their communities, striving to bridge this digital divide. They educate, empower, and connect individuals to the digital world, ensuring that everyone has equal access to digital resources and knowledge. Why should you consider becoming one? Here are a few compelling reasons:

  • Promoting Equality: The digital divide is often rooted in socioeconomic disparities. As a Community Digital Navigator, you contribute to leveling the playing field, providing all community members the chance to thrive in a digital society.
  • Empowering Individuals: Navigators play an essential role in empowering individuals, guiding them to use digital tools effectively. This empowerment can lead to improvements in various life aspects, such as employment opportunities, education, and social connections.
  • Boosting Community Resilience: Digital Navigators help communities to become more resilient by fostering digital skills. In a world where the digital landscape rapidly evolves, resilience comes from the ability to adapt and grow with these changes.
  • Personal Growth and Satisfaction: The role of a Digital Navigator isn’t just about helping others; it’s also an opportunity for personal growth. Navigators continuously learn about new technologies, developing new skills in the process. There’s also immense satisfaction in making a tangible difference in the lives of individuals and your community.
  • Enhancing Connectivity: As a Navigator, you work to foster connections within your community. You not only connect individuals to the digital world, but you also connect them to each other, strengthening communal bonds.

In a world increasingly dictated by digital fluency, Community Digital Navigators have an essential role to play. By becoming a Navigator, you can contribute to a more equitable and connected society. It is not just about teaching someone to use a computer or navigate the internet; it’s about opening up a world of opportunities, connections, and resources.

You can play a part in ensuring everyone is aboard as we sail further into the digital age.

Cellular Google Maps Navigation

BRP Google Maps Offline Navigation

Planning a trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway?  Be prepared for little to poor mobile broadband!

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a top tourist destination that has stellar views and overlooks.  However, you should plan to have no to poor cellular service for your map navigation.

Entering Blue Ridge Parkway

Google Offline Maps

Before you depart for the BRP, download ‘Offline Maps’ to your mobile device and Google Maps app for your turn by turn map views.

1. **Ensure you have a strong internet connection.** Since you will be downloading large maps, it’s recommended to do this on a WiFi network to avoid using up your mobile data.

2. **Open Google Maps on your device.** If you haven’t installed it, you can find it on Google Play Store for Android or App Store for iOS. Make sure it’s updated to the latest version.

3. **Search for Blue Ridge Parkway.** Type “Blue Ridge Parkway” into the search bar at the top and press the search button.

4. **Select the area to download.** Once the map has loaded, press on your avatar to see more information about the location. 

5. **Adjust the area.** You can pinch to zoom in or out, and drag to reposition the map. Google Maps will tell you how much storage the download will take. Try to cover the areas you’ll be visiting along the Blue Ridge Parkway, including the roads you’ll be using to get there and away, as well as any areas you plan to explore off the parkway.

6. **Download the map.** Once you’re happy with the area you’ve selected, press the “Download” button. The download process will start, and it might take some time depending on the size of the map and your internet speed.

7. **Rename Your Map.** Once the map is download, Google Maps app will automatically name the file “Map #.”  I suggest renaming the map area to something meaningful.

Remember, offline maps will prompt you for updates in the future. 

Also, while using offline maps, you won’t get traffic information, transit details, or other real-time features. 

It’s always a good idea to check your maps are downloaded and working correctly before you leave for your trip.

Devices Digital Inclusion Refurbishment of devices

Device Refurbishment Round Table

The WestNGN Digital Inclusion plan identified access to devices as a critical barrier to adoption of broadband resources.

WNC Broadband and the Land of Sky Regional Council had a round-table meeting to hear to hear about and discuss solutions to address electronic device waste and device access in WNC.


  • WNC Inclusion Progress
  • Community Needs for Devices
  • Device Refurbishment Program Panel
  • WNC Device Solutions Workshop
Device Refurbishment Roundtable Participants


Video 1

Late Start on Introductions

Video 2

Dr. Bill Sederburg

Video 3

Dogwood Health Trust

Video 4

Emery Ortiz is the Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Emery Oritz PowerPoint

View Emery’s PowerPoint at this link.

Video 5

Start of Panel Discussion

Video 6

Panel Discussion

Video 7

Yvette Brooks, Through the Trees
2023-24 Policy Recommendations Broadband in WNC Executive Summary

Top Broadband Issues


The WNC Broadband Project is an Asheville-based broadband advocacy group that works closely with UNC Asheville faculty and students to conduct research, draft policy recommendations, and advocate for better broadband access throughout the state, with particular emphasis on the western region. Since 2017, WNC Broadband Project and UNCA have hosted annual Leadership Summits, published policy papers, created a presence on the web and social media, utilized UNC Asheville students to spread the word about broadband issues, and provided expertise to the community.


The WNC Broadband Project 2023-24 Policy Recommendations Document was created in collaboration with many state, federal, and local broadband experts, and it details many of the issues that our state still faces with respect to broadband infrastructure, access, and usage. This document is intended for broadband advocates, state and local government officials, universities & colleges, as well as non-profits & Foundations.

Highlighted here are the top 10 issues of interest to state legislators:

  1. Better Mapping Data of Broadband Coverage
  2. Better State Data & Improved ISP Reporting
  3. Continued Funding for the Affordable Care Program (ACP)
  4. Building Workforce Ready Digital Skills
  5. Providing Digital Equity & Inclusion Opportunities
  6. Funding for Completing and Updating Infrastructure
  7. Empowering Local Governments to Complete Unserved Areas
  8. Expand 5G Wireless Coverage
  9. Revise and Strengthen RDOF
  10. Funding Requirements Fund Pole Replacement Program
Download the Complete 12-Page Detailed Document Below


The North Carolina State Legislature has significant authority to improve broadband access in the state. While the policy recommendations described here are non-exhaustive, they address some of the key issues causing barriers to broadband access that affect NC citizens all throughout the state. The Legislature is uniquely positioned to address each of these concerns, having the opportunity to make a direct, positive impact on the lives of NC residents for years to come.

For more information please contact Dr. Bill Sederburg (

With gratitude, from the WNC Broadband Project Team

Bill Sederburg, Ashley Moraguez, Braden Ball, Claire Tomlinson, & Marc Czarnecki

Download the 1-page Top 10 Issue Executive Summary Below