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Broadband access Dogwood Trust Economic Development Education Employment

Critical Broadband Access

Learn from Lessons

It takes partnerships and collaboration to maintain and improve the health, education, and economic development of our Western North Carolina communities.

We illuminated just how critical broadband access is for learning, working or even supplying a family in quarantine. 

Susan Mims, Interim CEO at the Dogwood Health Trust, April 30, 2021 Newsletter

What is the pathway to future Western North Carolina growth?

High speed internet or broadband and fiber optics will have a critical role!

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Advocacy Broadband access Broadband in WNC Digital Inclusion Economic Development Education FCC William Sederburg

Broadband Future in WNC

by Dr. William Sederburg

Western North Carolina Broadband Project Chair Dr. William Sederburg talks about broadband and the situation of broadband maps from the FCC and the actual situation of broadband service as detailed in his letter to the FCC.

WNC Broadband Future – Dr. Sederburg

YouTube Video Outline

00:00 – Organized through University of North Carolina Asheville
01:36 – Former FCC Officials Stagg Newman & Greg Voyt in WNC
02:21 – FCC Presentation
03:00 – WNC Broadband Project’s start
04:42 – ‘Future Proof’ Broadband
06:11 – ‘Lack of broadband infrastructure is NOT just a rural problem’
07:19 – Buncombe County Map – No Services offered in red, white areas do not have adequate broadband
08:21 – Conclusion, Federal policy changes, WNC short-changed services, WNCBP offer to help FCC with maps (see the letter below)

Because broadband is a critical need for economic growth, education, tele-health, and more; the WNC Broadband Project is here to advocate for broadband improvements for our communities.

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Broadband access Broadband in WNC Community Development Digital Divide Digital Inclusion Economic Development Education Gigabit NTCA Real Estate Shirley Bloomfield

WFH

Working From Home

How will the COVID-19 epidemic change the relationship from working in an office to working from home (WFH)?

How will WFH alter Asheville?

If 1/3 of Americans work from home, it changes transportation planning in a huge way.

Road Guy Rob

Transportation

In Buncombe County, we know the bottlenecks and high capacity of traffic on I-240, I-40, and I-26 as major interstates connect and bring-in or out employees. If work from home become permanent, the commuting demand shifts from vehicular traffic to broadband traffic.

Office Space

Yes, essential worker in hospitality, grocery stores, and other service industries in WNC will see needed transportation continue; but should an organization spend an enormous amount of money at their headquarter office to seat employees that cost $2.00 or more a square foot per month?

Land Use

How does the shift of working in an office to WFH effect home costs? Anyplace that has healthy broadband could become the new employment location. You don’t have to commute to work and there will be a ‘flight’ to smaller communities. Available land in the outskirts of WNC will become attractive home and workplaces.

Prerequisite

In the future there will be unprecedented availability of gigabit broadband which is available through fiber networks.

Urban cities can have 130 subscribers per mile. Rural communities can have 6-7 subscribers per mile. Fiber doesn’t get any cheaper based on where you are putting it in the ground. Yet in rural America it is even more important to bridge the digital divides.

Shirley Bloomfield, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association CEO (Human Resource office in Biltmore Park)

The Big Picture

America and WNC is returning to a decentralized economy. The world economy is replacing the suburb commutes with the internet at the speed of light. Communtable work distances in WNC is limitless. Additionally, our carbon footprint will be reduced. Political and socioeconomic landscapes will change. What will be the role of mass transportation in WNC?

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Advocacy Broadband access Broadband as a Utility Broadband in WNC Community Development Digital Divide Digital Equity Economic Development

Bridging A Digital Divide

High speed internet should be available to everybody in Western North Carolina.

It is critical to economic opportunity, job creation, education, telehealth, and civic engagement.

Broadband Call-To-Action

Your call-to-action should be:

  1. Advocate for the timeless investment of fiber to replace copper and cable. It is likely the power company owns your neighborhood telephone poles and a right-of way is needed.
  2. Steward the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program to your network. A Federal Subsidy of up to $50 per month is available. Additionally, a one time $100 per household for hardware.
  3. Provide the NC Broadband Office with information about the lack of dependable broadband at your location or a friend or neighbor.

Bridging The Digital Divide For All Americans. Federal Communications Commission. https://www.fcc.gov/about-fcc/fcc-initiatives/bridging-digital-divide-all-americans

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Advocacy Broadband in WNC Dogwood Trust Economic Development Infrastructure Workforce Development

Strategic Priority

Broadband Connectivity

A strategic area for the Dogwood Health Trust is Economic Opportunity:

Bolstering the infrastructure for a growing economy through investments in broadband connectivity and workforce development.

Dogwood Health Trust Strategic Priority

Strategic Priorities – Dogwood Health Trust. (2021, March 30)

Dogwood Health Trust.

https://dogwoodhealthtrust.org/strategic-priorities/


‌The WNC Broadband Project Leadership team supports DHT in wanting to “help create a WNC where every generation can live, learn, earn and thrive, with dignity and opportunity for all.”

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Broadband funding Broadband in WNC Economic Development FCC Kevin Jones RDOF Stagg Newman WLOS

About $45M in Federal Grants for Broadband Expansion in WNC

Our Western North Carolina Broadband Team Leader, Kevin Jones:

Looks like several WNC counties will be getting around $45M in RDOF funding.

Kevin Jones

Stagg Newman, Retired FCC Technologist and also a WNC Broadband Project Team Lead adds:

These grants help a bit. In Buncombe County, we have estimated that we have at least 15,000 Households without available future proof broadband service as defined in the Buncombe County RFP. These federal grants only address less than 1500 lines in Buncombe County, so less than 10% of the problem. I think the situation is similar in Henderson County and probably in other counties. So a small step in the right directions. The problem is most of the unserved areas do not qualify as totally unserved census blocks under the FCC Rural Development Opportunity Fund (RDOF). Congress mandated in 2019 that the FCC fix their mapping problem but only funded the FCC to do so in December of 2020. It will likely take the FCC at least two years to do so. The next $10 B of RDOF money will not be available until after the FCC fixes the maps.

Stagg Newman

In the WLOS video, Senator Kevin Corbin talks about the importance of broadband in Western North Carolina

WLOS – Sen. Kevin Corbin – (R) District 50

Dr. Shelley White, President of Haywood Community College also references in the WLOS video the broadband client-access benefits for their Small Business Center.

WLOS – Dr. Shelley White, President, Haywood Community College

Hodge, R. (2021, February 16). About $45 million in federal grants will help expand broadband in WNC. WLOS; WLOS. https://wlos.com/news/local/federal-grants-to-help-rural-counties-expand-broadband

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Broadband funding Economic Development Small Business

Invest in Broadband

North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District 

Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina’s 11th congressional district (encompassing most of Western North Carolina) indicates to the Council of Independent Business Owners of his goals including investing in broadband.

Bring High-Tech Infrastructure and Increase Broadband 

Cawthorn also wants to bring high-tech infrastructure and increase broadband to outlying counties to attract new businesses.

WLOS ABC 13

WLOS staff. (2021, January 29). Congressman Cawthorn talks business during Asheville CIBO meeting. WLOS; WLOS. https://wlos.com/news/local/congressman-cawthorn-talks-business-during-asheville-cibo-meeting

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Advocacy Broadband funding Digital Inclusion Economic Development Lamar Owen PARI Transylvania

Broadband as a Rural Utility

REA Brought Electricity to Rural America

The availability of power can be taken for granted. As Lamar Owen, Chief Technology Officer at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) relates to the Rural Electrification Act (REA).

The Rural Electrification Act of 1936, enacted on May 20, 1936, provided federal loans for the installation of electrical distribution systems to serve isolated rural areas of the United States.

The funding was channeled through cooperative electric power companies, hundreds of which still exist today.[1] These member-owned cooperatives purchased power on a wholesale basis and distributed it using their own network of transmission and distribution lines. The Rural Electrification Act was also an attempt made by FDR’s New Deal to deal with high unemployment.

Wikipedia

Rural Broadband Implementation Act

Shouldn’t broadband also become something similar to REA?

A Rural Broadband Implementation Act?

Lamar Owen discusses the topic and how it relates to rural and mountainous Transylvania County, NC in the video below.

Broadband as a Utility in Rural America

Broadband at PARI Series

PARI Website

https://www.pari.edu/

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Broadband funding Economic Development Education Telehealth

$7 Billion for Broadband

United States Relief Package

Funding to help improve broadband in the US is coming. States, communities, counties, and cities need to have a framework to apply for this opportunity.

In North Carolina these frameworks can include:

  • NC Broadband Infrastructure Office
  • NC Councils of Governments or county COGs
  • Tribal Groups
  • Rural Electric Cooperatives
  • Tele & Cable Companies
  • Wireless Internet Service Providers
  • Local Broadband Providers
  • Internet Satellite Providers
  • Universities and Colleges
  • Cities and Municipalities

In the Metro Asheville area, there are two entities that advocate for broadband improvements for our economic future:

  • WestNGN for Buncombe, Madison, Henderson, and Transylvania Counties
  • WNC Broadband Project for North Carolina’s western counties

Learn More About the $7B for Broadband

Margaret Harding McGill. (2020, December 21). COVID relief bill provides $7 billion for broadband access. Axios

https://www.axios.com/broadband-access-covid-relief-bill-7-billion-5be48439-c1a4-4927-a0c4-515312a1d281.html

Kelly, M. (2020, December 21). US relief package provides $7 billion for broadband. The Verge.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/12/21/22193133/us-coronavirus-covid-relief-stimulus-package-broadband-huawei-zte

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Advocacy Broadband access Broadband in WNC Digital Divide Digital Inclusion Digital Inequality Economic Development Education

Homework Gap

Now a Learning Gap In Rural America

I am already shocked. As a father of two digitally-connected children, I know first hand of the significant value of having broadband available. The digital value is having computers available, the knowledge of how to apply computers, with broadband being available on demand, to engage with society for knowledge, communication, health, and more.

Additionally, having volunteered at several area schools and community centers, I see the digital divide. If students don’t have broadband available at home, immediately the student is disconnected from our digital world of learning opportunities.

The pandemic has made getting computers and internet connections to households with school-age children a priority. The “homework gap” is sizable. Before the pandemic, some 16.9 million children under the age of 18 lived in households without wireline internet service and 7.3 million live in homes without a desktop, laptop, or tablet computer. What was a homework gap is now a learning gap.

John B. Horrigan

Digital Tools & Learning. (2020, December 10). Benton Foundation. https://www.benton.org/blog/digital-tools-learning

Also See


The author of this article, Marc Czarnecki; helps to minimize the rural divide in America by supporting the WNC Broadband Project.

The WNC Broadband Team advocates for the necessary broadband improvements for our #digitallives.