This past April, Orange County began a partnership with Lumos Fiber to bring broadband or high-speed internet service to homes and businesses that previously struggled with internet access.
Since then, Lumos has begun initial work to increase access to residents throughout the year. The project is expected to reach 28,000 homes and businesses, including 6,400 locations that previously had little to no internet service.
Lumos said they expect construction to begin as early as spring 2023. The county identified broadband internet access as an issue for rural residents in more underserved areas.
Carrie Sue Florence, a resident of Cedar Grove and president of the Cedar Grove Neighborhood Association, said she has been frustrated with the lack of internet connection to her home and to the homes of her neighbors.
“I want my people to get what is due to them, including me,” she said.
She said she has been working to get stable internet access in rural areas, especially for children in school because she taught for 30 years in Orange County and three years in Chatham County.
Todd McGee, Orange County community relations director, said the transition to online school, work and even telehealth brought even more attention to how underserved parts of rural Orange County struggle in terms of stable internet and service.
“The pandemic really exacerbated the fact that broadband was more of a necessity than a luxury item,” McGee said.
The County is using $10 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund the project and it has been expanded by Lumos Fiber’s own investment.