Surry Communications was recognized as part of North Carolina’s Rural Broadband Week, an honor put into place via a declaration from Gov. Roy Cooper in early August.
Broadband, the high-bandwidth transmission that enables access to high-speed internet, has been critical to North Carolinians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything from healthcare to remote learning has moved online in recent months to limit person-to-person interaction.
Cooper’s Aug. 8 proclamation stated that broadband allows its users more affordable and efficient access to education, healthcare, public safety, commerce and government. The proclamation also states that those without broadband face a digital divide that hinders them from accessing necessary resources.
The goal of Rural Broadband Week, held Aug. 17-21, is to highlight the accomplishments of the broadband providers across the state that work tirelessly to provide high-speed internet access to its members.
Surry Communications, one of seven broadband membership cooperatives in CarolinaLink, N.C.’s Broadband Cooperative Coalition, serves the communities of Elkin, Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain and Lexington.
In addition to Surry, the seven cooperative members include: ATMC (Atlantic Telephone Membership Cooperative), Randolph Communications, Riverstreet Networks, Skyline/Skybest, Star Communications and Yadtel Telecommunications.
These cooperatives provide advanced technology services to many of the state’s most rural areas. Coalition members serve more than 150,000 rural homes and businesses in this region and are committed to expanding rural broadband to unserved and underserved communities throughout the state.
“We are proud of our coalition members and their efforts to continue the expansion of broadband to rural North Carolinians,” commented Dwight Allen, executive vice president of CarolinaLink. “Access to high-speed internet is vital for education, healthcare and business and with fiber optic technology our cooperatives are paving the way for the future of rural North Carolina.”
Over the past year, CarolinaLink members received $35.3 million dollars in state and federal grant funds and will invest an additional $17.4 million in matching funds for rural broadband expansion projects.
Through grant funds provided by the NC GREAT Grant Program and the USDA’s ReConnect and Community Connect Programs, more than 15,000 North Carolina homes and businesses will soon have access to fiber optic high-speed internet. CarolinaLink members also self-fund more than $30 million in rural broadband projects annually.
CarolinaLink members serve residents and businesses in thirty counties throughout the state and employee more than 1,000 North Carolinians. In addition, five of the seven coalition members are Gig-Certified through the Rural Broadband Association. Four of the cooperatives are also nationally recognized as Smart Rural Community Providers, which highlight member projects that make rural communities vibrant places to live and do business through the implementation of innovative broadband-enabled solutions.