Martin Co. works to bring broadband internet to rural parts of county

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MARTIN COUNTY, N.C. (WNCT) – Rural areas lack broadband speeds needed for doing homework, applying for jobs or seeing a doctor remotely.

Martin County is working with an internet provider to improve access and give people the connections and speed they need.

“It breaks up quite a bit comes back slow,” said Madison Beachum

Beachum said her internet connection is unreliable.

“We pay quite a bit for us to have terrible service so it’s hard,” she said

But this Bear Grass woman said it’s all she and her neighbors have.

There it’s a big problem with having a steady internet connection or one that runs decent,” she explains.

Martin County leaders are working with a company called Cloudwyze to find out how many homes lack quality internet service.

The farther away from that you get from the main arteries the more the gap in coverage becomes,” said Jason Semple.

Martin County Economic Development Chief Jason Semple knows it’s important to have internet access.

“It’s both bridging the homework gap providing access to markets for entrepreneurs,” he said.

Some argue it’s a necessity.

“Having something like good internet that you can telehealth from a home and talk to your doctor. That can be very important rather than having to get out and find transportation to a doctor in Greenville,” said Beachum.

But better coverage can be expensive, for people, for businesses, and for internet service providers.

“It costs so much to build out infrastructure per mile and so if you only have one or two homes who may or may not take your service or subscribe to your service then you’ll never make your money back. The risk is just too high for them,” said Semple.

Semple and Cloudwyze will use their findings to apply for a grant from the NC Broadband Infrastructure Office.

“Hopefully we have a favorable response to that and after that, they can start working on the plan to deploy their services in the areas that we have identified,” Semple said.

People hope the grant leads to better service and growth for Martin County.

“I think it would help bring a lot more businesses if they knew that they had broadband and access to those things,” said Beachum.

Cloudwyze plans to submit martin county’s grant application on March 16th. The company will also provide internet service to the county’s rural fire stations, making them places where children can do their homework.

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