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Broadband Coverage Discussed At Alexander Commissioners Meeting
Photo courtesy of Alexander County Government

Broadband Coverage Discussed At Alexander Commissioners Meeting

The Alexander County Board of Commissioners heard reports about local broadband efforts from both Charter Communications and Open Broadband LLC at the October 11 meeting.

Mike Tanck, Director of Government Affairs for Charter Communications (Spectrum), was first on the agenda to discuss broadband initiatives. He presented information about the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) grant program which is designed to address the need to expand broadband into rural areas across the country. Tanck said RDOF areas are census blocks in which not a single home has access to broadband.

He said Charter was awarded over 1 million locations in the country, over 125,000 in the state, and 2,032 addresses in Alexander County, mostly in the northwestern, northeastern, and southeastern sections of the county. These predetermined locations will get fiber-to-the-home connections which will offer download speeds of at least 200 Mbps. Customers will also have the option to purchase TV/video and phone service. Tanck said it is a $5 billion investment in rural broadband that must be complete within a six-year period. Learn more at www.spectrumruralexpansion.com.

Photo courtesy of Alexander County Government

Tanck said there are many other areas of the county that are not serviceable, but do not meet the RDOF requirements; therefore, Charter has been working with the county to submit a grant application to the National Telecommunications & Infrastructure Administration (NTIA). The program offers $288 million across the country and is targeted for counties with populations less than 50,000 people. There is no financial commitment from the county.

Next on the agenda was a broadband update from Open Broadband LLC. David Moose, Alexander County Compliance & Procurement Specialist, and Nick Steward, Open Broadband Western NC Area Manager, presented the update to commissioners. To date, the company has 190 customers in Alexander County, with 55 customers at 50 Mbps or greater. Broadband service was recently expanded in the northeastern section of the county with a hub on Sulphur Springs Road.

Phase one of the current project includes the installation of equipment on towers on Willie McLeod Road and on Moore Mountain, which will provide broadband service to the Ellendale community and parts of northwest Alexander County. The equipment is scheduled to be installed on November 6. New customer installations from these tower sites will begin on November 30.

Phase two will provide broadband to eastern and northeastern parts of the county. One tower location has been determined in Stony Point and negotiations are underway with another tower owner.

Interested citizens can join the Open Broadband waiting list at www.openbb.net/alexanderco.

[Story courtesy of Gary Herman, Alexander County Public Information Officer]