Broadband access Digital Divide Economic Development Education Rural

Broadband Reality in North Carolina

The FCC reports that 93% of North Carolina’s population has access to the internet at the FCC threshold speeds of 25 Mbps. Of those without access, nearly 640,000 people live in sparsely populated areas.

How is internet broadband accessed? Broadband is accessed through a number of technologies including:

  • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
  • Cable Modem
  • Fiber-Optic Cable (Fiber)
  • Wireless
  • Satellite
  • Broadband over Powerline (BPL)

As of December 2014, only 16% of North Carolinians adopted broadband in their homes compared to the national average of 37% at the recommended speed threshold (25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload).

At this adoption rate, North Carolina ranked 40th out of the 45 reporting states.

More details are at:

broadband #NCSTEMScoreCard #StrategiesThatEngageMinds #economicgrowth

Broadband access Digital Divide Federal Efforts Rural

US House Energy and Commerce Committee Announces Legislation to Expand Broadband Access

The US House Energy and Commerce Committee has announced plans to adopt legislation that would invest $80 billion over five years to expand high-speed broadband infrastructure nationwide, to ensure internet affordability, and to enhance digital technology adoption. The House Democratic Plan to Connect All Americans to Affordable Broadband Internet is led by Congressman Frank Pallone Jr (D-NJ), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Congressman James E. Clyburn (D-SC), House Majority Whip and Chairman of the House Democratic Rural Broadband Task Force. To learn more about this important legislation, visit the US House Energy and Commerce Committee website.

Broadband access Broadband in WNC Digital Divide Rural

Families in WNC Must Adapt to Limited Broadband Access

With the closure of schools across Western North Carolina, families have been forced to adapt in the face of critical gaps in broadband service, in order to ensure that their students can participate in remote learning. A recent Asheville Citizen-Times article by Brian Gordon examines the impact of these obstacles to online learning in WNC and follows the story of the McGoverns, whose three school-age children have to complete their coursework using the hot spot on their mother’s cellphone. To learn more about how the McGoverns and other families like them are confronting the barriers to broadband access, visit the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Broadband access Digital Divide Rural

A Conversation on Our Nation’s Digital Divide

Shira Ovide, the writer of the New York Times On Tech newsletter talks to Cecilia Kang, a Times technology journalist, about our country’s unaddressed digital divide, particularly as it affects our rural communities. To read “Why Rural America’s Digital Divide Persists,” visit the New York Times.

Broadband access Digital Divide Rural

Rural Talk: A Virtual Advocacy Speaker Series–Focus on Broadband

The NC Rural Center will host a five-part series on key issues facing rural North Carolina. The first conversation will focus on Broadband accessibility, affordability and inclusion; this panel session will take place on Thursday, 7 May, at 11 am. The panelists include: Jody Huestess, Vice President for Marketing and Customer Care, ATMC; Robert Hosford, Executive Director for Rural Development, USDA; and Jeff Sural, Director of the Broadband Infrastructure Office, NC Department of Information Technology. To learn more about this series and to register for the Broadband session, visit the NC Rural Center website.

Broadband access Broadband in WNC Digital Divide Rural

A New Partnership in WNC to Bring Internet Access to Students in Need

The shift to remote instruction as a result of the pandemic has exposed the critical problem of unequal access to broadband service across our region. More than 35 percent of students in Madison county lack connectivity, and even in Asheville, where higher population density means better broadband service for many, there are significant numbers of students who still do not have internet access. To respond to this urgent need, the Western Region Education Service Alliance (WRESA) has partnered with the Dogwood Health Trust, to provide internet connection through the distribution of hundreds of digital hotspots to teachers and students. To learn more about this collaborative effort, visit the Mountain Xpress.

Broadband access Broadband Technology Digital Divide Rural

Fiber or 5G: How Best to Serve Hard-to-Reach Communities?

The high cost of laying fiber the “last mile” to the home has left many communities without adequate, or any, connection to the internet. This problem has been made even more visible during the COVID-19 pandemic, as families in rural and under-served areas struggled to support their children’s online learning needs or to address their remote work demands. A recent Wall Street Journal article, “A Partisan Debate Emerges Over Internet Dead Zones,” explores the promise, and limits, of 5G technology to meet our growing connectivity requirements, particularly for that last mile. To learn more, visit the Wall Street Journal.

Broadband access Broadband funding Digital Divide Rural

NTIA’s Webinar on Business Models and Solutions for Rural Broadband

NTIA’s BroadbandUSA Program will host a webinar on Business Models and Solutions for Rural Broadband. Here is the description of their webinar program: “Rural service providers continue to deploy broadband solutions and work to close the digital divide,  developing strong local partnerships and sustainable business models. Please join BroadbandUSA for its April webinar on broadband topics of interest, which  features three providers that utilize different technologies to bring broadband solutions to their rural communities. Panelists include an electric co-op from the Virginia Piedmont, an independent telephone company serving rural areas in the Southeast, and a regional cable provider, offering a triple play of video, Internet and voice in the upper Midwest.” To register for this webinar, visit BroadbandUSA’s registration page.

Broadband access Digital Divide Education Rural

Education in the COVID Era: Online Learning, Inequality and the Digital Divide

A recent op-ed article in The New York Times (“Locked Out of the Virtual Classroom,” 27 March 2020) argues that we are facing a moment of reckoning with the growing inequality in Internet access, separating the economically advantaged–who have the digital capability and hardware to succeed academically even in quarantine–and those in rural and poor communities, who often lack even the basics for simple connectivity. The coronavirus is making clear just how closely economic inequality and the digital divide track one another. The pandemic is crystallizing for us how critical the broadband needs of under-resourced communities are, and what will be necessary to address them. To learn more, visit The New York Times.

Broadband access Broadband in WNC Rural

The Rural Downtown Wifi and Jobs Project in Western North Carolina

In 2019, the WestNGN Community Broadband Survey, administered by the Land of Sky Regional Council, reveals that 13 percent of our region’s residents do not have broadband access and that for over half of the population, their service is inadequate. The WNC Rural Downtown Wifi and Jobs Project has been awarded $100,000 by the Appalachian Regional Commission to build out broadband access points and kiosks at regional centers, so that members of our community without access or adequate service can benefit from truly high-speed digital connectivity. To learn more about this initiative, please visit the Buncombe County Connecting Community webpage.