The lack of high-speed internet in Western North Carolina has been more than just an annoyance to Netflix binge-watchers — it’s also seen as one of the region’s largest economic development challenges.
When Travis Lewis was hit with a $600 charge for going over his monthly cell phone data allotment two years ago, he was taken aback to say the least.
Jackson commissioners were put in a tough spot this month by county staff seeking special treatment for wireless internet towers that would exempt them from the typical oversight and public hearing process for erecting towers.
Finding a solution to the lack of high-speed internet in rural Western North Carolina has been on the minds of economic development officials for some time now.
It’s hard to believe there are still developed neighborhoods in Haywood County that can’t get internet access or even landline telephone service, but it is a major problem in certain areas.
Melanie Williams was fed up. She could no longer run her web design business from her Crabtree home with the slow DSL internet speed from a cable provider.
“I was working on an e-commerce website for a client and I needed to add 100 products with corresponding images but it was taking about an hour for each photo to upload,” she said. “It was becoming a huge expense because I’d have to go into town to be able to work, and I couldn’t haul all my equipment around with me.”
When the sun sets in rural Fines Creek, the little community library gets bumping.
It may be after-hours, but any given evening, a steady stream of cars comes from miles to sit in the parking lot. It’s the newest take on the long-standing tradition of parking, except this love affair is between man and his computer.
Scanty wireless networks, outdated computer equipment, slow servers — technological woes have been a centerpiece of discussion at Cherokee Tribal Council meetings for quite some time. After months of introducing resolutions only to table them and hours-long meetings with finance, technology and broadband leaders, Council this month took action on a slate of legislation designed to give some direction to the technology overhaul and designate funds with which to do it.
Haywood County leaders are still in the process of collecting data on broadband Internet service, but they need help from residents living in rural parts of the county.
Maggie Valley Mayor Ron DeSimone sits on the Haywood County Economic Development Commission and is heading up the effort to bring better broadband service to the county.
It’s been more than eight years since the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians made its first move toward creating a business to bring Internet to the Qualla Boundary, but the issue has proven a good bit more complicated than first expected.