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Rural broadband expansion

ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. – Technology is more a part of education and instruction than ever before, but school-issued laptops for every child don’t do much good if there isn’t Internet access to go with it. 

What You Need To Know

  • Over 1,000 homes in Robeson County now have access to Spectrum high-speed Internet thanks to a grant
  • Thousands of students in NC still have limited or unreliable access to Internet
  • The General Assembly is focused on expanding broadband access across the state

It may be hard to imagine in cities like Charlotte and Raleigh, but there are parts of North Carolina that do not have access to reliable internet. A presentation from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to the House Select Committee on Education Reform included an internet access report. It showed thousands of students in the state have unreliable to no internet access, part of over one million households in North Carolina that still lack high-speed Internet.

“Until every single household has access to high-speed Internet, the work isn’t done,” Anthony Barton, the principal of Fairmont High School in Robeson County, said. 

The good news is state and federal grant programs are helping close the digital divide. Over 1,000 homes in Robeson County now have access to Spectrum high-speed Internet thanks to a grant for Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology. 

“We’re living in the Information Age, Robeson County has finally been able to catch up simply because we’re getting access to what other areas of the state have already had,” Barton said. 

In schools like Fairmont High School, the improved broadband access means students can now do homework, access textbooks, take tests, and do research, as well as allowing for remote instruction should the need arise for any reason. 

A student uses their Chromebook in a biology class at Fairmont High School. (Spectrum News 1/Rachel Boyd)

“Ever since we have had the opportunity to have more technology in school, students have been more actively engaged, lessons have been more engaging instead of just doing a regular lecture,” Taylor Lovin, a biology teacher at the high school, said. “I feel like them being able to use this technology is really going to enhance their learning and help them get ready for the next level.”

They are taking full advantage of the newly expanded broadband access in Robeson County; for many students, this is the first time they not only have a device to do schoolwork on, but sufficient internet to use it.

“It’s really hard to get them to that level that all these other schools are at, but I think that this is the start of it,” Lovin said. 

Republican Danny Britt, a state senator for Robeson County, said providing funding for rural broadband is opening doors on many levels and has been a top priority for this General Assembly.

“We’ve added thousands and thousands of people to broadband networks over the last six or seven years as a result of these GREAT grants,” Senator Britt said. 

This rural broadband expansion project is one of dozens Spectrum is involved in throughout North Carolina. Spectrum News and Spectrum Cable are both owned by Charter Communications.



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