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Broadband access Broadband in WNC Nate Denny NC BIO North Carolina Stacey Hughes

Connect WNC

Broadband for All

Updates on Funding and Funneling Broadband

When Land-of-Sky, WestNGN Broadband, and the WNC Broadband Project team identified and starting working in broadband; we had dreams of getting everyone in Western North Carolina connected.

Over the years we’ve had wins that helped keep us motivated, but with limited resources we moved slowly towards our goals. It is now clear that likely upcoming changes to policy, programs, and funding are going to be giant disrupters to how we move forward broadband issues in the region.

We’ve been on pins and needles waiting on answers on how these changes will work in WNC, and we’re looking locally and the state to help fill in the learning gaps.  

One thing that is clear- in order to get everyone connected we’re going to need to deepen our relationship with partners.

Virtual Event Agenda

  • Introduction to Nate Denny, the new Deputy Secretary of Broadband and Digital Inclusion
  • NC Department of Information Technology Staff
  • First draft unveiling of the region’s digital inclusion plan from Land of Sky
  • Stacey Hughes from Dogwood Health Trust
  • Sara Nichols & Paul Moon from the Land-of-Sky Regional Council of Governments
  • More broadband leaders

We hope you can join us virtually July 29th, 2021 from 10-11:30 EST to get updates from leaders on how we CONNECT WNC. 

Register Today

Categories
Advocacy Broadband access Broadband in WNC Devices Digital Citizenship Education IoT Speed Video Conferencing Work From Home (WFH)

Bandwidth Growth

Requires Future Proof Fiber

What is are the projected peak bandwidth requirements for a household of 4 through 2030?

A family of 4 should ask how to they use the internet:

  • How many and when are the internet devices connected?
    • Tablets, smartphones, desktop, laptops, IoT devices (Internet of Things) like a Ring doorbell with video.
    • Live streaming events?
  • Who uses the internet at home?
    • Students
    • Work from home adults
    • Business – entrepreneurial
    • Telehealth
  • What types of applications use the internet?
    • Gamers
    • Movie streamers
    • YouTube / Vimeo
    • Video conferencing
    • Data file exchanges for employment
    • Social media

Internet Speed Test

Learn more about speed tests and periodically run a speedtest on your computer devices; especially the laptop, tablet, and smartphones.

Sample demo of an Ookla speed test, video is accelerted.
  • Cellular 4G / 5 G speed test
  • WiFi speed test at home vs at work through wired networks

Be aware of the time of day that you are running a speed test as the evening will generally see slower speeds than the rest of the day because of other that maybe on your network locally or in your internet service provider coverage area.

The WNC Broadband Leadership team is receptive to your feedback.

Contact a member of the WNC Broadband Leadership team today.

Also See

Best Practices for Speed Tests


FBA Sees $100 Billion Cost for Nationwide Fiber Broadband – Telecompetitor. (2021, June 22). Telecompetitor.com. https://www.telecompetitor.com/fba-sees-100-billion-cost-for-nationwide-fiber-broadband/

Categories
Affordability Broadband access Broadband as a Utility Satellite Starlink

Starlink for Rural Broadband

Starlink is a potential solution for broadband for rural America that provides low-earth orbit or LEO satellites that are connected in a sequence and are networked with a grid. The LEO network of satellites provides improved speeds when compared to traditional satellite service. New technologies including Starling promise to bring broadband speeds to remote and sparsely populated communities. Can it work in the rolling hills of Western North Carolina?

Traditional internet service providers, such as cable and telecommunications companies, have provided service to these potential customers; but due to the cost of extending the infrastructure to them, providing fiber high-speed service is not economically feasible. Copper telephone lines do not provide the future-proof speeds that are needed for our connected world. Is the sky the potential internet service for some?

Furthermore, North Carolina law has prevented city and county governments from trying to fill the internet service gap; forcing residents to find creative internet solutions that work for their community.

Highlights of Starlink

  • Researchers are testing several wireless internet technologies in remote areas of North Carolina.
  • The new services are bringing broadband to places that traditional internet vendors rejected.
  • The cost of Starlink — $499 up front plus $99 per month — could be too high for some families.

Other Starlink WNC Broadband Blog Posts

If you have Starlink service in WNC, please contact a member of our leadership team a with your personal feedback and comments about the Starlink or other low-earth satellite internet provider service.


Woolverton P. Elon Musk’s Starlink service helps wrestlers, school kids with high-speed internet at home. The Fayetteville Observer. Published June 25, 2021. Accessed June 27, 2021. https://www.fayobserver.com/story/news/2021/06/25/twitter-elon-musk-starlink-satellite-internet-service-spacex-tesla-north-carolina-matt-hardy/5091546001/

Categories
Advocacy Broadband in WNC Digital Policy Federal Efforts Local Government State Efforts

Suggestions for Policy Makers

Broadband advocacy includes making recommendations to federal, state, local, and community leaders.

Here a some solutions to consider adopting and ideas to avoid.

Solutions Policymakers Should Adopt

  1. Invest in Unserved Areas
  2. Improve Permitting
  3. Increase Adoption

Ideas Policymakers Should Avoid

  1. Moving the Digital Goalposts
  2. Government Owned Networks: Policymakers should avoid establishing government owned networks (“GONS”), particularly in areas of the country that already have service.
  3. Rate and Public-Utility Regulation
Advocacy Blog Posts

Additional thoughts or comments for the Western North Carolina Broadband Initiative?

Contact a member of the broadband leadership team.

Read More

What Policymakers Should and Shouldn’t Do to Connect All Americans. U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Published June 21, 2021. Accessed June 27, 2021. https://www.uschamber.com/series/above-the-fold/what-policymakers-should-and-shouldn-t-do-connect-all-americans

Categories
Broadband in WNC

Will telehealth continue filling gaps in WNC?

Here are some highlights of the Carolina Public Press coverage on the topic of telehealth.

The full article is linked at the bottom of this blog.

When the pandemic forced health care providers like Thompson to turn online, many in Western North Carolina found telehealth presented a new opportunity to reach new populations, but it also showed them that geography was not the only barrier to access.

Carolina Public Press – Christian Green

The BCBS and US DHHS extensions may signal a more lasting change. North Carolina lawmakers introduced legislation to require insurance providers to continue to cover telehealth visits permanently.

Carolina Public Press – Christian Green

Harder to reach broadband situations exist because of a lack of economic benefits for providers in providing these “last mile” fiber extensions to difficult-to-reach populations.

Dr. William Sederburg

Current legislation regarding insurance coverage defines telehealth as “an encounter conducted through real-time interactive audio and video technology,” while it excludes “the delivery of services solely through email, text chat or audio communication unless additional medical history and clinical information is communicated electronically between the provider and patient.”

This distinction is important because not all patients are comfortable or able to use a synchronous audio/visual device. I still have a lot of patients who say they would just rather do a call over the telephone because the telephone is much easier, or they may not have a smartphone or strong enough internet for a video call.

MaryShell Zaffino, Chief Medical officer & Practicing Physician, Blue Ridge Health

Western North Carolina’s demographics are older, making it particularly susceptible to telehealth concerns.

Marc Czarnecki, WNC Community Tech

My own experiences using telehealth throughout the pandemic were positive, but as a former nurse, some situations require an in-person visit.

Barbara de Loache, 75

Visiting a physician in person several times during the pandemic, I recently had her first telehealth consultation. After multiple in-person appointments that required me to go to the doctor, for this one I had no travel time, no sitting in a waiting room, I didn’t feel rushed. It was one less appointment for me to have to go to.”

Linda Hemstreet, 70

Also See Other Posts

Telehealth WNC Broadband Blog Posts


Christian Green. Will telehealth continue filling gaps in Western NC? – Carolina Public Press. Carolina Public Press. Published June 25, 2021. Accessed June 25, 2021. https://carolinapublicpress.org/46759/will-telehealth-continue-filling-gaps-in-western-nc/

Categories
Broadband in WNC Fiber FIber Act GREAT Program Haywood County Local Government NC General Assembly Skyrunner

Broadband In Haywood County

The WNC Broadband Project is happy to see ~300 locations in Haywood on the list to get broadband thanks to Skyrunner and broadband advocates in Haywood County.

Article Highlights

  • Public-private partnership between Haywood County and local internet service provider Skyrunner will soon result in broadband service for more than 300 locations in some of the county’s most underserved areas.
  • Haywood County’s rugged mountain topography can sometimes be cost-prohibitive in terms of expanding internet service, wireless or not. The $1.7 million Skyrunner project will result in a fiber-only buildout on Haywood EMC poles in Crabtree, Fines Creek, on Rush Fork Road, ending near Lake Logan.
  • Skyrunner’s cost per location is a staggering $5,600, highlighting the financial challenges of providing reliable high-speed internet to everyone in the county, however, the gigabit-capable, “future-proof” fiber can carry the capacity to serve others, once it’s complete.

Article – Milestone moment for broadband in Haywood

Smoky Mountain News

Vaillancourt, C. (2021, June 23). Milestone moment for broadband in Haywood. Smokymountainnews.com; Smoky Mountain News. https://smokymountainnews.com/news/item/31624-milestone-moment-for-broadband-in-haywood

Categories
Digital Divide Digital Inequality

Digital Divide Decisions

Don’t replace the digital divide with the “not good enough divide”

Broadband of 25 Mbps down / 3 Mbps up; is a current FCC standard that is definitely NOT future-proof.

With strategic decisions being made to a magnitude not see in the history of the internet, what should the benchmark become?

Congress must prioritize spending public funds for high-speed service, not simply good-enough service.

Tom Wheeler – Brookings

Wheeler, T. (2021, June 21). Don’t replace the digital divide with the “not good enough divide.” Brookings; Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2021/06/21/dont-replace-the-digital-divide-with-the-not-good-enough-divide/

Categories
American Community Survey (ACS) Broadband funding Broadband in WNC Data FCC Form 477 Maps Measurement Lab (M-Lab) Microsoft Ookla Speed Test

New Broadband Map

Federal Maps on Broadband are still wrong & threaten Buncombe County funding

Buncombe County, NC – No broadband need???

Our broadband leadership team continues to advocate for quality broadband in Western North Carolina and we get excited when new ‘Indicators of Broadband Speed’ data becomes available to further assist in making objective decisions for our communities. However, we question the integrity of the data, including for Buncombe County, NC.

Indicators of Broadband Speed

The Indicators of Broadband Need map was created by the United States Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). 

The map uses several different data sources to show information on broadband availability within the United States. 

Layers in this map were created using data sourced from the American Community Survey collected by the U.S. Census, Measurement Lab (M-Lab), Ookla, Microsoft and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

A description of each data set is given in the map linked at the bottom of this blog as well as information on how to download the county, census tract and census block level data used in the map.

Comments from our WNC Broadband

  • New federal maps are an important small step in the right direction that point out the real extent of the problem.
  • New federal maps are still woefully inaccurate and show many areas as covered that are not because of the Swiss Cheese network with many small holes (see map below).
Buncombe Swiss Cheese Broadband
Buncombe Swiss Cheese Broadband Network
  • It will take years for the federal government to develop accurate maps given the mandate processes and the IT work involved
  • Therefore, the federal maps should not drive funding in the near term.
  • Near term funding must be driven at the local (county) and state level where local knowledge and feet on the street can determine where funding and build-out is critically needed.

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


New federal broadband maps show stark differences in access, affordability. Nbcnews.com. Published June 18, 2021. Accessed June 20, 2021. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/rcna1220

NTIA Creates First Interactive Map to Help Public See the Digital Divide Across the Country | National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Ntia.gov. Published 2021. Accessed June 20, 2021. https://www.ntia.gov/press-release/2021/ntia-creates-first-interactive-map-help-public-see-digital-divide-across-country

Categories
Broadband access NBC News News

Lack of Broadband Creates a Digital Divide

Could Community Broadband Become A Solution?

Residents in Wilson County have some of the best internet in the nation.

That’s because in 2008 the city of Wilson established its own broadband service, called Greenlight Community Broadband, and began wiring the entire county with fiber optic cables.

“When the pandemic hit, we were able to prioritize getting our teachers and students connected,” said City Manager Grant Goings.

NBC News

Internet infrastructure is not in some of NC communities because it is too expensive for private companies to install the connectivity.

The farther homes are spread apart, the lower the return on investment and in WNC, we have mountains and rough terrain that further hinder cost-effective connectivity.

So some cities and counties across the country have decided to build broadband as a utility for residents, just like water or power, including Wilson and Salisbury.

NBC News on YouTube

While the Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan aims to fix this with a goal of providing coverage to every household, prioritizing smaller groups like Greenlight, that doesn’t help in North Carolina.

After Greenlight was built, the telecommunications industry pushed through a state law prohibiting any more cities from building their own internet networks.

Read more about Wilson’s endeavors and how big telecom’s fought back.

Kaplan, E., & Messenger, H. (2021, June 16). Some North Carolina residents still fight for internet access. NBC News; NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/internet/some-north-carolina-residents-still-fight-internet-access-n1270943

Categories
Advocacy Affordability Broadband access Digital Equity Digital Literacy NC BIO North Carolina www.DigLit.net

Achieving Digital Equity Is Within Our Reach

Gov. Roy Cooper proposes investing $1.2 billion in federal American Rescue Plan funds in these key pillars necessary to close the digital gap:

  • Infrastructure and access
  • Affordability
  • Digital literacy. 

By investing in these key pillars, North Carolina can achieve digital equity for all.

The Digital Divide | Broadband Infrastructure Office. (2021). https://www.ncbroadband.gov/digital-divide

Digital Equity Resources