We live in an information-driven world, with having access to the internet becoming increasingly more and more important. Unfortunately, so many people are still having issues being able to access high-speed internet, especially in rural areas that don’t receive proper coverage. Pender County, North Carolina is trying to increase the availability of high-speed internet to their residents and others operating in the area by applying for a $31 million dollar grant and partnering with Atlantic Telephone Membership.
County Manager, Chad McEwen had this to say about Pender County applying for this grant: “It touches every part of our lives, in terms of internet access,” said county manager Chad McEwen. “If you don’t have it, it creates a disparity between the more urban areas that have high-speed internet access and the rural areas that don’t.”
It goes beyond just residents not being able to access the internet in their homes. Many people are affected by poor internet connectivity in the area. Firefighters, police officers, government offices and operations as well as schools are affected by poor connectivity.
This could actually cause disaster and devastation in terms of functionality. If police officers cannot fully access resources there could cause an increase in crimes, firefighters could lose valuable time in responding to fires or other issues, and students in schools could be interrupted in their education process.
McEwen continued in speaking about the problems that are currently being faced by the county: When there is no internet access in rural areas where these students live, it presents problems for them in terms of students doing homework,” said McEwen. “A lot of them have to get in cars and come into Burgaw or other areas where Wi-fi is available. It just logistically causes a lot of problems and challenges for students.”
An interesting fact related to this: The United Nations has actually focused on internet access as a human right, among many other initiatives, the Internet Society conducted a Global Internet User Survey which revealed that the majority of people polled consider access to the internet to be a basic human right. In this survey, 83% of respondents responded that they strongly agreed with the prompt. 14% responded they somewhat or strongly disagreed with the prompt and 3% responded that they didn’t know the answer to the prompt.
Having already applied for the grant and been reviewed, It’s just a matter of waiting out the clock to see if the county receives the grant.