ELIZABETHTOWN — County commissioners were baffled on Monday after presentations from representatives of Star Communications and Charter Communications/Spectrum.
The discussion focused on future broadband accessibility, more specifically for those in outlying areas of Bladen County where internet connectivity has been spotty at best.
According to Star’s Kyle Randleman, his company received a $25 million USDA Reconnect III grant to build broadband in Bladen County that would serve 3,500 homes – which he said would cover the remaining portion of the area. cover of Star Communication.
On the heels of Star’s presentation, Eric Collins of Charter spoke with commissioners about his company’s plans to apply for a grant which, if awarded, would provide broadband to 640 county homes – a block of residences assigned to Charter by the State.
Collins then said the grant application would be strengthened if the county injected its own funds as a Charter/Spectrum partner.
What neither company could tell the board was whether their plans would then fully cover Bladen County.
“I would like to make a motion that we table this,” Commissioner Charles Ray Peterson said. “It’s just me, but they (Star and Charter) can tell me what they’re going to do, but I need to see it. I need to see a map with what will be covered in the county of Bladen before considering donating money Surely they can show us.
This prompted similar statements from the board.
“I agree with what Mr Peterson is saying,” Commissioner Michael Cogdell said. “We need to have a map in front of us that shows what they’re saying.”
County Chairman Ray Britt was looking into the matter even more deeply.
“You know…when we went to Raleigh and we heard the Governor talk about broadband access to all of North Carolina, he told us 100% of the state would be covered, don’t is this not ?” Britt said, looking at the other commissioners. “We’ve been hearing this for four years, but it hasn’t happened yet.”
Collins told the board that Charter/Spectrum’s application had a May 4 deadline.
“Our next meeting is May 2…will that work?” Britt asked him.
Collins said it would. He also added that Commissioners can see a map of broadband coverage by going online and finding the NC-1 map, which County Executive Greg Martin said Commissioners had already been shown and would revisit. .
“I just want every company that serves Bladen County to show us what areas they cover and will cover with broadband,” Peterson pointed out. “I want to lay the Charter map and the Star map on the county map and see for myself what we will have because even after hearing what they said it looks like we might still have some gaps. .”
The board voted unanimously to submit Charter’s grant application through May 2.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or [email protected]