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Help Expand Buncombe's Internet Access: $1B in State Broadband Funding Available

You can help expand broadband by filling out a survey.

Just five minutes could help increase internet access in Buncombe County. North Carolina is offering counties $1 billion to increase broadband infrastructure, and funding will be distributed based on an online survey. The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the need for effective countywide internet access as virtual learning and work from home culture has become normalized. “Previous surveys of Buncombe County residents determined there were significant underserved and unserved areas and showed that 9.2% of the surveyed population had no internet access,” notes Buncombe County Management Analyst Amanda Stratton.

With North Carolina looking to divvy up $1 billion between the state’s 100 counties, we need your help completing this brief survey so we can ensure the State is aware of all unserved residences. Funding will be competitive, and discovering where broadband is lacking is vital to Buncombe County securing money from this one-time opportunity. “There has never been the level of funding for broadband as is available right now. If you want to have access to internet now or in the future, this is the best time to make it known that your area is currently unserved,” exclaims Stratton. “We know that the map the state is currently using to indicate who is unserved is inaccurate. We need your help making sure all areas without broadband are known.”

So if you have five minutes and want to improve internet access for yourself and our community at-large, please take the brief survey. To view the survey in Spanish, click here.

Also, our Community Engagement team will be out in the community with iPads helping those without internet access complete surveys. If you would like more information about Buncombe County’s effort to increase broadband infrastructure, click here.

Does internet access really matter?
Statistics from recent Buncombe County survey

  • 10% of respondents do not have access to high-speed internet.
  • 75% say service is inadequate and 45% too expensive.
  • 60% use for education and 35% for business activities

Education Stats

  • The FCC’s Broadband Task Force notes that 70% of teachers give students homework that demands access to broadband. 
  • Approximately 65% of young scholars use the internet at home to complete assignments as well as connect with teachers and other students via discussion boards and shared files. 
  • A recent study indicates that practically 50% of students say that they are unable to finish their homework due to an inability to either connect to the internet or in some cases, find a computer. 
  • 42% of students say they received a lower grade because of this disadvantage. 
  • According to research conducted by the Center for American Progress, "if the United States were able to close the educational achievement gaps between native-born white children and black and Hispanic children, the U.S. economy would be 5.8 percent—or nearly $2.3 trillion—larger in 2050." 

Economic Stats

  • Broadband access for a household results in an increase of $1,850 in annual economic benefit. 
  • Home-based businesses and online sales result in $2.4 million annually (community of 20,000 population) 
  • 30% of tourism transactions are made online. 
  • Teleworkers save an average of $500 annually on care maintenance and fuel. 
  • Small businesses using social media are 3 times more likely to have recently hired than not. 
  • Telemedicine adds $522,000 to rural economies and reduces hospitalizations. 
  • Small businesses with websites have higher annual revenues than those that do not. 
  • Broadband can increase home values by an average of 3%.
  • Farmers with broadband see a 6% increase in revenue.

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Updated Dec 07, 2022 12:46 PM
Published Feb 11, 2022 07:00 AM