Regional Broadband Initiative
UCPCOG and its Regional Broadband Task Force received a $72,000 grant from the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA) to conduct a Regional Broadband Initiative with partners to better understand and address broadband challenges and opportunities for underserved communities across the Upper Coastal Plain five-county region.
The initiative's scope of work includes:
- Surveying local governments to determine current conditions, needs, goals, challenges, existing assets, and potential partnerships related to improving broadband infrastructure
- Surveying public in communities across the region to more accurately determine needs, digital literacy, and more
- Testing internet speeds in various locations throughout the region
- Mapping broadband assets region-wide (public buildings, vertical assets, right-of-ways, planned/existing residential and commercial areas, and others)
- Providing stakeholder and community educational and targeted, like webinars and workshops, to improve technical expertise, build relationships, support sound decision making, increase public demand, and more.
The UCP Broadband Task Force meets every other month and is open to representatives of all member local governments in the region. Contact Ben for more information.
You can view the Broadband Initiative press release here.
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Digital Inclusion Planning
UCPCOG and the Broadband Task Force are overseeing a regional digital inclusion planning process after receiving $20,000 from the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University's BAND-NC grant program.
The digital inclusion plan will include unique digital inclusion elements for each of the five counties in the region. The digital inclusion plan will be complete in February 2021 and will be used to guide future funding for digital inclusion projects identified at the county level. View the press release here.
On May 8, 2020, UCPCOG joined NC Hearts Gigabit to host a webinar aimed at providing a better understanding of the broadband connectivity landscape to member local governments. You can watch the recording of that webinar and others from NC Hearts Gigabit at the links below:
Broadband 101+ with UCPCOG
Better Broadband with Better Data + the NC Context
Broadband Planning: From Vision to Action
For more broadband resources, visit the NC Hearts Gigabit web page.
Upper Coastal Plain Region featured on WRAL Documentary Disconnected
UCP Broadband Task Force members Montre Freeman (Town of Enfield) and Gene Scott (City of Wilson) were featured in WRAL's Disconnected. This documentary highlights the region's challenges in obtaining or expanding adequate, affordable, and reliable high-speed internet.
You can view the full documentary here.
Regional Broadband Strategies
STRATEGIES AND TACTICS
- Improve robust and affordable broadband access to un-served and underserved areas to meet present and future needs.
- Establish a regional broadband task force.
- Identify and prioritize areas where high speed internet and broadband for middle and last mile is needed.
- Create opportunities to optimize return on public and private investments in broadband infrastructure that can improve broadband services in the region.
- Identify incentives (e.g. grants, loans, tax programs) to encourage greater private investment by the telecoms in the broadband infrastructure.
- Allow for public investment in broadband infrastructure
Additional Broadband Resources
- How Localities Can Monetize Broadband-Enabling Assets and Expand Connectivity
- Becoming Broadband Ready
- Instituting a Dig Once Policy
- TELEHEALTH initiatives to serve rural Americans.
- US Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration has an interactive website: https://broadbandusa.ntia.doc.gov/
- The Community Broadband Playbook, developed in NC DIT’s Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO), provides communities with functional tools including templates, examples, ideas and many more resources that communities can use to build a broadband strategy that addresses their needs.To see the playbook, visit the Community Broadband Playbook website.
- Connecting North Carolina Broadband Plan
- Leaping the Digital Divide: Encouraging Policies and Partnerships to Improve Broadband Access Across North Carolina
- NC Department of Information Technology: The Homework Gap in North Carolina
Areas of our region lack adequate broadband access. High-speed broadband is a necessity for the development of resilient and successful communities. It is required for businesses to thrive and ultra-high-speed broadband in critical to global competitivness.