A partnership between Orange County and a private broadband provider to improve internet access in rural areas of the county is nearly operational.
By late April 2019, customers in northern Orange County will begin receiving broadband internet access from Open Broadband LLC, a company that specializes in residential and business internet services.
Since November 2018, the North Carolina-based company has been installing the necessary infrastructure for broadband service, such as attaching antennas to towers. Broadband is a form of internet service in which the user connects to the internet through wireless radio signals rather than physical lines.
The company is using a $500,000 grant awarded by the county.
“This was the county’s effort to offer a grant, or a public-private partnership, to anyone that could improve internet service to rural areas of the county,” said Jim Northrup, Orange County’s chief information officer.
If the county government is satisfied with the first area, Open Broadband will be allowed to install infrastructure in the other planned service area, around the town of Bingham. The company expects the first customers in that area to start receiving service this summer.
Both the county government and Open Broadband said high-speed internet access is essential for educational and economic success.
“In today’s society, everybody has to be online,” said Alan Fitzpatrick, CEO of Open Broadband.
He cited schoolwork, job searching, remote-working and operating in a global marketplace as major areas that now require reliable internet access.