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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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?
Our Western North Carolina Broadband Team Leader, 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.
In the WLOS video, Senator Kevin Corbin talks about the importance of broadband in Western North Carolina
Dr. Shelley White, President of Haywood Community College also references in the WLOS video the broadband client-access benefits for their Small Business Center.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Digital Tools & Learning. (2020, December 10). Benton Foundation. https://www.benton.org/blog/digital-tools-learning
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.