An issue that repeatedly comes up in my discussions with folks is the lack of good internet access in North Carolina. Not only is the internet a helpful tool for businesses, schools, public safety, hospitals and our homes, but it also means access to quality information that supports learning, provides life-saving information and an economy that is increasingly online.
However, according to the FCC and the SouthEast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors North Carolina ranks last in the nation for households “subscribing to the level of broadband the FCC deems necessary to engage in modern life.” Only 17% of homes have access to a reasonable network that gives them opportunities the rest of the country has.
I see this as big road block for the growth and health of our state. Without the right infrastructure NC small business owners suffer - driving down the road to use a dial up internet connection is not an efficient way to conduct business and isn't good for the economy in NC. We need quality broadband throughout the state so that farmers are able to find competitive prices for equipment they need, children can benefit from online resources in their learning, we can have state-of-the-art emergency response systems in all counties and maybe most importantly, so that families can connect through video conversations.
While some might disagree and say that our internet connections are just fine, let me help put this in some perspective: South Korea will soon have broadband speeds that are 200 times faster than the fastest available in the United States. Their technology companies will soon be able to innovate using tools that we can only dream about. Rural communities will be able to interact with inner cities at a speed and scope literally impossible for us in North Carolina. Children in South korea will be able to learn on technologies that are still another decade away for us. North Carolina has been leading the nation in jobs and innovation for the past few years, we can’t turn back now.
This issue became a topic of discussion in one of my recent Raleigh Plus Hangouts. As a small step in this direction, I have asked some of the participants to draft a plan for free high quality wifi access in a common area in downtown Raleigh which I can present to the City Council this fall. I hope that this initiative, and others like it, will help convince others in Raleigh and across the state of the need for affordable, high quality internet access. If you would like to help, let me know!
Access to good internet is imperative to our entire state and Raleigh will prove it.
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