Last month, Governor Pat McCrory’s administration published a 75 page “State Broadband Plan” that outlines a strategy designed to bring high-speed internet to every business and household in North Carolina by 2021. With 93 percent of its population on broadband Internet connections, North Carolina is already the leader in the Southeast for high-speed internet connectivity. Many of the remaining seven percent live in some of the state’s most rural communities.
“…according to the Federal Communications Commission, almost 750,000 North Carolinians still do not have high speed internet access, and eighty nine percent of those citizens live in sparsely populated communities and counties,” said Keith Smith, North Carolina’s Chief Information Technology officer in the introduction to the report. “So, there is still more work to be done.”
North Carolina has also established itself as a leader in classroom Wi-Fi connectivity, with nearly 65 percent of its classrooms on wireless connections. The State Broadband Plan aims to connect 100 percent of North Carolina’s classrooms to Wi-Fi by 2018.
So How Does the Governor’s Office Plan to Accomplish These Ambitious Goals?
Rather than requesting additional funding to expand connectivity, the plan focuses on coordinating existing funds and facilitating partnerships between local governments and private sector entities. A key part of the plan involves relaxing local regulations to provide incentives for service providers to invest in North Carolina. In doing so, the North Carolina Department of Information Technology hopes to bridge the “digital divide” that currently separates rural and urban communities.
The report also included a number of recommendations on what steps municipalities should take to expand broadband access throughout the state. These include eliminating barriers to fiber deployment, creating community-based broadband adoption initiatives, integrating broadband deployment into economic strategies and enhancing public safety and first responder connectivity.
For more information on what the Governor’s Office has in mind, you can check out the complete State Broadband Plan here.
Here at Connected Fiber, we’re proud to have played a part in the ongoing initiative to provide communities in North Carolina with the high-speed Internet connections they need to thrive in the 21st century. We’ve made some remarkable strides in the last couple of years, but the job’s not done yet. View our service areas here, and stay tuned for more updates as we continue to expand our service throughout the region.