In recent years, Guilford County and counties across the state have made improving internet access in rural areas a top priority.
On Wednesday, Feb 22 a collective of counties working together took another step toward that goal.
Members of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners – an association of counties that work together to pursue common interests – met with Charter Communications, the NC Division of Broadband and Digital Equity and other players to advance that cause.
The Association of County Commissioners was represented by the group’s Counties Connecting Counties Task Force.
The Division of Broadband and Digital Equity is a division of the NC Department of Information Technology that was created in 2021 to help find ways to “close the digital divide in North Carolina.”
At the broadband expansion summit held in Wake County, task force members heard presentations from Department of Information Technology experts regarding potential standards for broadband service, digital equity grant opportunities now available to counties, and ways to build digital literacy skills among state residents.
The late February meeting was part of a statewide effort to address broadband access in unserved and under-served communities in North Carolina. The task force, led by NCACC President and Washington County Commissioner Tracey Johnson, discussed problems and solutions with state broadband experts.
After the meeting, Johnson said the task force had learned a great deal about overcoming the barriers to broadband expansion in the state and added that the task force members were excited about building relationships with broadband providers across the state and sharing information with counties as to the best ways to move forward.
During the meeting, NC Deputy Secretary for Broadband and Digital Equity Nate Denny and members of the department addressed county highlights in the effort so far and reviewed best practices from those North Carolina counties that already have promising broadband inclusion and expansion strategies.
Task force members also spoke with representatives of Charter Communications to find ways to offer more affordable access for county residents.
The task force plans to continue its work to expand broadband access and has a stated goal of developing resources for counties – like a “broadband playbook and toolkit” that’s meant to meet each county’s specific needs.
The task force plans to meet again in April.
(Photo courtesy of the NCACC)