Orange County partnered with NorthState last month to bring high-speed fiber internet service to nearly 28,000 Orange County homes – of which, 10,000 do not currently have reliable internet access.
Part of the Orange County Broadband Initiative, this partnership will increase access to affordable, high-speed internet services to unserved and underserved areas of Orange County.
To Colleen Goularte, who lives in a rural part of the county, the news of fiber internet coming to her area is comforting.
Goularte said she has lived on Orange Chapel Clover Garden Road, an area included within Orange County’s fiber internet project, for 20 years.
Because of her location, Goularte said the high costs and slow speeds of internet are large issues. She explained that the problem has even had an effect on her virtual work with online college classes and work.
“Electronics are always getting better and better and better,” Goularte said. “Being out here, it’s kind of hard to be able to utilize all of those when you don’t have internet that can handle it.”
Fiber-optic internet is a method of internet connection that uses cables to transmit information in the form of light, according to CenturyLink. Fiber-optic cables can send data as fast as about 70 percent of the speed of light.
Orange County Commissioner Sally Greene said that because the fiber is installed mostly in the ground, the project is expected to take four to six years. However, service is planned to be available in some areas as early as the spring of 2023.
“While the Chapel Hill and Carrboro area enjoys high-speed broadband internet through various providers of fiber to the homes, most of rural Orange County has no such benefit,” Greene said. "They are not served by fiber; they have slow internet connections if any connection at all.”