We’ve been exploring North Carolina lately, learning about other communities and their needs. The word we keep hearing is they want to be like Wilmington, which is funny because in Wilmington we keep hearing from folks who say, “We want to be like Raleigh.”
But Wilmington is unique. We have a great lifestyle and unlimited opportunity. We also have Internet access from multiple sources – many more options than most communities do.
Big deal? Yes, it is a big deal because there are hundreds of thousands of people in North Carolina who do not have those options. In many cases, as I’m sure you can imagine, no options for getting Internet to the home exist other than costly, slow satellite-based service. Those people have been excluded from reliable and affordable Internet in what’s known as the "last mile," and it’s typically due to high costs, lack of funding or both.
To quote from Gizmodo, the last mile is the term used for that “part of Internet data’s voyage that takes it from local utility poles or underground tubes into your house … the physical infrastructure that connects individual homes to the rest of the network.”
In Wilmington, like in so many other cities, we have options. You might not like the service, or the price, or the speed – but you have access and options. Approximately 30 percent of Americans do not have true “broadband” access at home.
People who choose to live in a rural setting – because they farm, or because they value a different pace of life, or their family is there – still have the right to access the Internet, which includes the right to stream video, perhaps the biggest “hog” of the data stream.
It’s not all about frolicking in Netflix. People who work from home may need to video conference. Farms are businesses that need to process data and communicate with partners and vendors.
But perhaps the most compelling reason we need reliable and affordable Internet in underserved areas is that students study from home. Our state has gone digital and shortly, most all students will rely on tablets, not textbooks. They will have to watch video as part of their homework, do research, create profusely and upload their work.
For children, relocating closer to access is not always feasible, nor is it a choice they can make. So much of North Carolina is rural that reliable, high-speed Internet is an absolute necessity.
CloudWyze is working with communities that understand that need. Our state is stepping up to help with funding where possible, but the right technology solution must be paired with the right financing solution. Several major ISPs are promising to serve rural areas now that funding is becoming available, but most say it will take more than five years to deliver that connectivity.
We do not want North Carolina’s students to be nearly a decade behind those from other states. We do not want small businesses in North Carolina to be held back, unable to compete just because they’re literally on the wrong side of the tracks for getting high-speed Internet.
The last mile is the hardest but we can do this. We can give North Carolina a leg up by working together with other providers and utilizing new, innovative technologies to light up – and support - the last mile.
Shaun Olsen is the CEO and president of CloudWyze. CloudWyze was created to help businesses focus and perform at their optimal level by crafting and executing custom technology plans for businesses of every type and size. To learn more about CloudWyze, visit www.CloudWyze.com. Shaun can be reached at [email protected] or 910-795-1000.
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