North Carolina County Picks Recipient for Broadband Project

In the kickoff meeting, the county decided the first sector to receive coverage would be the northwest quadrant of the county, in the Oak Hill area, which is vastly unserved.

by Charlotte Wray, Henderson Daily Dispatch / July 24, 2019
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(TNS) — Granville County, N.C., officials kicked off conversations and solid plans for broadband Internet deployment last week, following through on their part of the Tri-County’s initiative to bring high-speed access to unserved areas.

Though North Carolina's Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, where Franklin, Granville and Vance counties joined together and settled on Open Broadband as the provider earlier this year, the counties have just recently passed their respective contracts.

Now figuring on spending the next couple of months on planning and research, they are pinpointing the areas that should receive service first.

In June, Granville County Commissioners approved a seven-year contract with Open Broadband, where they would deploy service over the next four years and maintain service for the three years after final rollout, according to Charla Duncan, Granville County Management Analyst.

If plans stay on track, Open Broadband will notch its first customers by the beginning of 2020.

In the kickoff meeting, the county decided the first sector to receive coverage would be the northwest quadrant of the county, in the Oak Hill area, which is vastly unserved.

“Over the course of this project, we will be addressing the entire county, but want to make sure we’re starting in areas that are currently unserved, so that everyone will have access to high-speed Internet,” County Manager Mike Felts said in a news release.

Though residents are eager, officials reiterate that the process will take time, especially as Open Broadband places antennas on existing buildings and structures. This means counties must identify unserved areas, but also find vertical assets — communication towers, water towers, steeples and silos — in those areas.

The county will pay Open Broadband $152,000 annually for the first four years as an economic incentive. For Granville and Franklin counties that’s more than Vance County is paying, as Vance received a $344,000 state grant that targets service in certain Tier 1 counties. With the state’s money in hand, Vance County will pay only $66,000 of its own annually for four years.

Open Broadband is now accepting waitlist sign-ups for service. For those who sign up, they will be regularly updated on the rollout schedule.

Granville County will have a community interest meeting Sept. 10 at 7 p.m., though officials have not decided on a location at this time. It will likely take place in the Oak Hill area.

©2019 Henderson Daily Dispatch, N.C. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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