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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.

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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.

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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