Hyde County and Albemarle Commission focus on expanding broadband

Published 5:17 pm Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Hyde County Commissioners in partnership with the Albemarle Commission are looking to expand broadband access to make the internet more accessible for county residents. 

“Broadband comes under our umbrella. We had, of course, seen the need for broadband through economic development but then with the pandemic, the lack of ability for education to be delivered has become a very key element,” said Michael Ervin, executive director of the Albemarle Commission. “Broadband has been an even bigger push.”

Hyde County has been identified as severely lacking access to broadband by the North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NCDIT). This is made more difficult by the pandemic as more families are learning to adapt and work from home. 

“We really feel like we are the stepchild to North Carolina. Northeastern North Carolina really gets overlooked quite a bit in a lot of what we’re trying to do,” said Ervin. “We’ve talked to major providers of internet services such as Suddenlink and CenturyLink and some of the big boys and their answer ultimately boils down to there’s just not enough money there.” 

The ‘big boys’ are considered as the large internet providers such as Suddenlink who supply broadband to Beaufort County. In most of Hyde County’s municipalities, smaller internet providers handle what they can in terms of demand for broadband services.

“We’ve got to work with the small vendors in each location that’s willing to take the final mile out to the populace that needs us and then work back to find an attachment to a big boy,” said Ervin.  

Hyde County Commissioners and the Albemarle Commission plan to work together moving forward as the two try to bring more broadband services to Hyde County. 

“The more we can get this as a group effort and try and bring our strengths together, the more likely we’re going to get some response. Some positive response,” said Ervin. 

The NCDIT has created a survey for North Carolinians to gauge public opinion on the current availability of broadband and online services. In Hyde County, approximately 4.6% of county residents have completed the survey as of Tuesday. The survey can be found on the Albemarle Commission’s website, https://albemarlecommission.org/ under the Economic Development tab and is open to all North Carolina residents.