ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County recently received GREAT news regarding internet access.
Internet access will be expanded to nearly 1,500 homes and businesses in the outlying areas, courtesy of a state Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology grant and Charter-Spectrum.
County Manager Bryan Land on Friday announced that $4 million from American Rescue Plan Act State Fiscal Recovery Funds has been awarded from the N.C. Department of Information Technology Division of Broadband and Digital Equity.
The total price tag for the project, which will cover the northwestern and southeastern areas of the county, is $8,805,566. The remaining balance will be paid by Spectrum and the county. The Richmond County Board of Commissioners voted in May to allocate $100,000.
“As we stated in our grant narrative, the funds will be utilized to extend service to the underserved areas throughout our County,” Land said in a Sept. 1 email to county leaders. “A special thanks goes out to Jimmy Quick as he spearheaded (and) completed a considerable amount of legwork for the project.”
Michael Tanck, director of government affairs for Charter-Spectrum, said in May that the Federal Communications Commission in 2020 created the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to expand broadband into unservered rural areas, based upon unserved Census blocks: areas with less than 25 megabits downstream and 3 megabits upstream.
Charter-Spectrum won around 120,000 locations in more than 60 North Carolina counties — including 389 in Richmond — through a reverse bid. Tanck explained that “locations” could include a residence, school, church or business — “really, any structure that could connect to broadband.”
According to a map included in Tanck’s presentation, a large number of those locations are in the northwestern section of the county, with a small section between Cartledge Creek Road and the Pee Dee River and another section south of Cordova.
He added that the company would also service the residents “on the way” to the unserved locations.
“We continue to be extremely fortunate in Richmond County with landing considerable amounts of grant funding,” Land said. “We have a very knowledgeable team that work vigorously to land grants and other means of funding for our County to offset cost and lessen the burden on our taxpayers.”