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Broadband in WNC Congress Land-of-Sky (LOS) Sara Nichols

LOSRC Staff Testifies Before Congress

On Thursday, September 21st 2023 at 9:00 am Sara Nichols, Senior Planner with Land of Sky Regional Council (LOSRC), testifies before the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, Communication and Technology Subcommittee hearing on “Connecting Every American: The Future of Rural Broadband Funding”. To learn more about this hearing visit Communications and Technology Subcommittee Hearing: “Connecting Every American: The Future of Rural Broadband Funding” (

Sara Nichols in Washington DC Congress

Land of Sky Regional Council Board of Delegates has identified broadband expansion as one of their top priorities. Ms. Nichols testimony does not represent the official position of our Board but she will make remarks based on her experience as a professional planner and practitioner leading the Council’s broadband efforts. The Board of Delegates has not taken official action to endorse the specific details regarding federal broadband policy. The Council has focused on broadband expansion in Western North Carolina through West Next Generation Networks (NGN) and digital inclusion efforts.

Bridging the Digital Divide: (

In partnership with private broadband providers, the Council has leveraged tens of millions of dollars from federal, state, and local governments to expand broadband to underserved communities across the region. Land of Sky Regional Council has supported efforts throughout Western North Carolina to connect critical community landmarks like community centers and fire departments. The Council has also promoted downtown WIFI connectivity in small towns and rural communities, provided devices to underserved populations and connected public housing developments.

Over the course of her professional career, Ms. Nichols has helped secure more than $40 million in broadband funding for the Western North Carolina region from a wide range of sources including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the state of North Carolina’s Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grant program, and many other sources. These investments are helping connect over 15,000 unserved residents and businesses in Western North Carolina. Ms. Nichols holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Mars Hill University. She has graced national stages as a speaker sharing insights on digital inclusion, the importance of broadband accessibility, and the intersection of technology and quality of life.

Ms. Nichols is the first employee of Land of Sky Regional Council to testify before Congress since former Executive Director Justin Hembree testified before Congress in 2017.

Press Release Reference

Contact:  Nathan Ramsey

Mobile: (828)768-3216 or Email:

Land of-Sky Regional Council

Wednesday, September 19, 2023

Lifestyles Work From Home (WFH) Youth

Work and Lifestyle of Young Adults Changed During the Pandemic

Young adulthood (ages 18-34) is characterized by many life changes that may include starting employment, going to college and new living situations.

But in recent years, this life stage has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought about large-scale societal transformations.

A new U.S. Census Bureau data visualization explores these changes across a myriad of social characteristics of young adults from 2019 to 2021 including working from home; college enrollment; living arrangements; and computer and internet use.

Between 2019 and 2021, the share of young adults ages 18 to 34 who:

  • Worked from home increased by 12.0 percentage points.
  • Had a broadband internet subscription increased by 2.4 percentage points.
  • Were enrolled in college or graduate school decreased by 0.7 percentage points.
  • Lived alone increased by 1.1 percentage points.

Other highlights of changes in the social characteristics of young adults from 2019 to 2021:

  • The number of young adults enrolled in public undergraduate educational institutions decreased 12.9%, from roughly 12.6 million in 2015 to 10.9 million in 2021.

US Census Bureau. New Data Visualization Shows More Young Adults Worked From Home and Lived Alone During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Published September 6, 2023. Accessed September 16, 2023.

Broadband Availability Buncombe Cellular

Buncombe County To Vote On Cell Phone Tower

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will soon vote on a contract with a communications tower manager that county staff projects will generate up to $21 million over the next 20 years.

According to a June 2020 North Carolina Department of Information and Technology survey, 23.7% of people surveyed in Buncombe County do not have access to internet and 6.1% of surveyed Buncombe County individuals don’t have access to cellular service. The survey received about 5,200 responses in the county.

“Buncombe County to Vote on Potential $2M Cell Tower Deal.” 2023. 2023.

“Wireless Developers – Strong Partnerships – Milestone Towers.” 2022. Milestone Towers. June 15, 2022.

“North Carolina Broadband Survey |” 2023. 2023.

Community Centers Fairview

Why Broadband is a Game-Changer for Community Centers

Broadband is crucial for a community center, internet both inside and outside its premises.

Why is Broadband a Game-Changer for Community Centers?

Connectivity Inside the Building

  1. Digital Inclusion: Provides access to those who can’t afford it at home.
  2. Education: Enables online learning resources and courses.
  3. Community Engagement: Facilitates virtual town halls and community meetings.

Connectivity Outside the Building

  1. Public Wi-Fi: Extends the reach to nearby parks and public spaces.
  2. Emergency Services: Allows quick access to online emergency resources.
  3. Local Businesses: Supports online operations for nearby small businesses.

The Bottom Line

Broadband isn’t just a service; it’s a community lifeline.

Investing in high-speed broadband for your community center is an investment in the future.

SMCC Website

Visit the Spring Mountain Community Center (SMCC) website at:

Broadband funding Completing Access to Broadband (CAB) Digital Equity Haywood County Madison Mitchell NCDIT Rutherford

14 counties, Including 4 In WNC Will Share $22 Million for Broadband Expansion

The NCDIT Broadband Infrastructure Office, part of the Division of Broadband and Digital Equity, made the following awards, which are contingent upon a final, executed grant agreement with broadband provider partners:

  • Alexander County: Spectrum Southeast LLC (Charter Communications)
  • Franklin County: Spectrum Southeast LLC (Charter Communications)
  • Granville County: Spectrum Southeast LLC (Charter Communications)
  • Haywood County: Spectrum Southeast LLC (Charter Communications)
  • Hertford County: Roanoke Connect Holdings (FYBE)
  • Madison County: Skyrunner Inc.
  • Mitchell County: French Broad Electric Membership Corp. (French Broad Fiber)
  • Onslow County: Spectrum Southeast LLC (Charter Communications)
  • Robeson County: Spectrum Southeast LLC (Charter Communications)
  • Rutherford County: Bellsouth Telecommunications LLC (AT&T)
  • Sampson County: Spectrum Southeast LLC (Charter Communications)
  • Stokes County: Surry Telephone Membership Corp.
  • Vance County: Zitel LLC
  • Wilkes County: Wilkes Communications Inc.

Staff W. 14 North Carolina counties receive $22 million for broadband expansion project. WLOS. Published September 5, 2023. Accessed September 6, 2023.

Governor Cooper Announces First Round of Completing Access to Broadband Awards to Expand Internet Access in 14 Counties. Published 2023. Accessed September 6, 2023.