On Monday, April 19, Guilford County plans to put out a request for proposals to assess the needs and the cost of greatly expanding broadband internet in areas of the county where broadband is currently not available.
The move comes as part of a major new effort led by Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston to greatly enhance the infrastructure of the county.
Alston said on Thursday, April 15, that county staff has put together the request that will identify spots in the county where internet offerings are insufficient and will provide an estimate of the cost of remedying those shortfalls.
For years, a lack of high-speed internet in parts of the county – especially many rural areas – has been a topic of discussion for the board. However, until now, not much has been done by county government to address those needs.
Guilford County Commissioner Kay Cashion has spoken a great deal about the county’s lack of high-speed internet, and, statewide, broadband access has been near the top of a legislative goals wish lists that’s put together by the NC Association of County Commissioners – a body that collectively promotes the interests of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
Cashion has served for years as a representative to that association, and she spoke about the needs again at a Thursday, April 15 meeting of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. Shortly after that meeting. Alston revealed that an RFP would go out on Monday.
Alston said that two area universities – NC A&T State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro – had already been conducting some preliminary work studying the county’s internet needs.
“We can work with them on broadband,” Alston said of the local universities.
He said the county will then engage in a plan to make sure its internet needs are met.
Alston added that, while providing sufficient internet speeds has been an important item in the past, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more essential – so that school children in all parts of the county will all have remote learning as an option.