Tuesday, 24 September 2019 04:51

Broadband Internet Service To Be Available In Several Parts Of Alexander County

Broadband Internet Service To Be Available In Several Parts Of Alexander County Photo Courtesy of Alexander County EDC

Broadband Internet service will soon be available in several areas of Alexander County as a broadband Internet pilot program is about to begin. Alexander County Economic Development Corporation and Alexander County Government staff met with Open Broadband LLC last Monday, September 16th to discuss the current status of the broadband pilot program in Alexander County.

Open Broadband planned to begin the installation of equipment atop Linney’s Mountain this week. Once the equipment is deployed and configured, a thorough test plan will be run to ensure satisfactory performance. At that point, Open Broadband will begin rolling out broadband service to homes and businesses that are located within the coverage area. Open Broadband has a waitlist to allow interested residents and business owners to sign up to receive Internet service when it’s available in their area. To join the waitlist, visit www.openbb.net/alexanderco.

Once residents sign up for the waitlist, the Open Broadband team will email and/or call to schedule a site visit to determine if the Internet speed is adequate at that location. By joining the waitlist, there is no obligation or commitment to subscribe to Open Broadband’s service. Open Broadband has no contracts, no usage caps, no throttling, no bundling, but offers 24x7 technical support.

The feasibility study reinforced the survey results, showing that there are significant Internet service gaps. Fortunately, the county has substantial infrastructure in place such as fiber optic cable, towers, and mountains. The study showed that fixed wireless would likely be the best option for the county in terms of cost and coverage. (Fixed wireless Internet provides qualified households and small businesses with high-speed Internet service via an outdoor antenna and indoor Wi-Fi Gateway router.) A pilot program was recommended to find an Internet service provider that will work with the county to install fixed wireless Internet service to provide coverage to underserved and unserved areas.

The Alexander County EDC applied for, and received, a $50,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) in early 2019 to help fund the pilot program. The EDC then issued a request for proposals in March to find an Internet Service Provider (ISP) with the best plan, qualifications, and price point. Upon review of the proposals, the EDC Board of Directors approved a contract with Open Broadband to conduct the pilot program. Per the contract, Open Broadband provided a $50,000 match to the ARC grant, and Alexander County Government contributed $36,470 to the project.

During the rollout, the Open Broadband team identifies homes and businesses that are candidates for service and performs basic tests to determine eligibility. While unfortunately not all homes immediately qualify for service, their engineering team utilizes service request form submissions to find neighborhoods and other geographical groups of customers to prioritize efforts.

Open Broadband’s home office is located in Waxhaw. They currently serve portions of the following North Carolina counties: Alamance, Alexander, Caswell, Chatham, Duplin, Franklin, Gaston, Granville, Greene, Lee, Mecklenburg, Orange, Rowan, Rutherford, Stanly, Vance, Wake, and Wayne.

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