Rural Duplin County residents to receive high speed internet

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KENANSVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Rural residents in Duplin County will receive high-speed internet after years of waiting.

A solution is developing that will connect rural Duplin County areas to the information highway due to a partnership between Duplin County and a local broadband company.

The partnership plan will use certain water towers to transmit high-speed internet to places it hasn’t gone before.

On Monday, the Board of Commissioners approved a partnership with Eastern Carolina Broadband to improve internet access.

The company will use thirteen water towers in Duplin County.

“Further out in the more rural areas we’re more agriculture and a lot of the households here have been left out,” said Elizabeth Stalls, Duplin County Planner. “They don’t have wired service providers so they rely on satellite or data through a cell phone provider.”

A survey sent out by the Duplin County Government earlier this year found that about twelve thousand respondents were living without internet.

“We found that sixty percent of the area was unserved,” said Susan Meyers, co-founder of ECB. “That means that sixty percent of the school children who have iPads at home and the farmers don’t have internet.”

The school system also looks to increase its technology usage due to the expansion of internet access.

Internet speeds are expected to reach an average twenty-five megabits down and five up, and cost Duplin County residences about $59 per month.

ECB is leasing the water towers from the county for $250 per tank per year with a lease of thirty-four months.

There’s no definite timeline for when service will start.

The company also said their growth is limited by a number of vertical assets and they are looking to also partner with private owners of cell towers to expand the service.

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