Broadband initiative discussed

Published 9:50 am Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Expanding broadband outreach in Charlotte County continued to be a discussion at a November meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors.

Cullen/Red House Supervisor Dr. Nancy Carwile said she recently attended a session on Broadband.

Dr. Nancy Carwile

“The Governor was there …” she said. “They’re changing their philosophy …”

Carwile said in the past eligibility for help receiving broadband in the county, a survey would first be conducted showing where broadband is not available and how much is available.

“The new philosophy is to do it more like … homeless veterans. If you’re a veteran and you’re homeless, they’re going to do something about it,” she said.

She said if there was a community or person who did not have access to broadband, they were eligible to ask for help.

“But, it does require a commitment of this board to pull things together …” Carwile said.

She said one of the concerns is not just broadband, but affordable broadband.

“We don’t want somebody to come in and charge $500 a pop or something,” said Carwile.

She said she also has found out a lot of people do not know what broadband is.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “the term broadband commonly refers to high-speed internet access that is always on and faster than the traditional dial-up access. Broadband included several high-speed transmission technologies …”

The FCC said these technologies include wireless, satellite, fiber, cable modem, digital subscriber line (DSL) and broadband over powerline (BPL).

In addition, the FCC said the type of technology chosen will depend on a few factors, including whether an individual is local in an urban or rural area.

She said in most of the survey, the question was asked if the individual had internet access, however, a lot of individuals have internet access through their cell phones.

“If your internet access is not like your tv was or your radio where you can leave it running … that’s not what they’re talking about …” said Carwile.

She said she was encouraged.

“What happens after the legislature meets, how it might change, I don’t know,” said Carwile. “Right now, these guidelines and planning papers … are in the process of being made.”

She said she thinks the local broadband authority in the county should wait until the information is received.

“I think that among this Board we all have a commitment to do something because it’s not going to pay for itself and when you don’t have it, it hurts our school children, it hurts our businesses, it hurts the property values of your land, it hurts all of those things …” said Carwile.

She said the initiative is not trying to put existing companies out of business.

“It is a change in direction and a change in philosophy and I’m encouraged by it,” she said.

Carwile said she hopes the Broadband Authority would have more information by January.

Drakes Branch Supervisor Garland H. Hamlett, Jr. said he recently attended a Broadband Summit in Roanoke along with other members of the Board and County Administrator Daniel Witt.

Private-Public Partnerships was a topic of discussion, said Hamlett.

He said other counties were working with electric co-op’s.

Mecklenburg Co-op has already started the initiative, he said, which includes the Charlotte County service area.

Red Oak/Wylliesburg Supervisor Kay Pierantoni said during the recent Broadband Summit in Roanoke she learned just about every county has some problem with internet.

“Some counties are being more proactive,” she said.

Pierantoni said it is a moral failing of the children in the county if something is not done about the situation and lack of broadband in the county.