Hyde one of three counties to receive broadband support

Published 11:17 am Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Hyde County is one of three North Carolina counties to be selected to participate in a pilot program aimed at improving internet access to support remote learning. 

The North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO) and the Friday Institute at NC State University are leading the CARES Act-funded program, with additional support from the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE), the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ State Library, and Hometown Strong. Besides funding, the partners are also assisting the school districts with implementing the “Satellite Internet Technologies for Student Connectivity Pilot,” which will allow students to access Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s (SpaceX) Starlink internet service.

“Our students need high-speed internet to succeed not only in these challenging times but into the future,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “Innovative programs like this pilot with SpaceX can connect students to high-quality internet service to help with remote learning, and we are excited for it to expand.”

Starlink provides high-speed internet service via Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite technology, which BIO has determined could be a viable option to reach residents in remote areas. Through the pilot, school districts will be able to test the feasibility of the service for K-12 students who live in areas with no broadband infrastructure or reliable cellular service.

The pilot is funded by $200,000 in CARES Act Funding from NCDIT and $64,000 in CARES Act Funding from NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, on behalf of Hometown Strong. This funding will support this initiative in researching, analyzing, and providing recommendations regarding the use of satellite technologies that may help reduce the homework gap as well as improve rural healthcare and further rural economic development.

The Friday Institute is providing technical assistance in developing and implementing the program.