Broadband boost: Co-op seeks $ 26 million grant to bring high-speed Internet to Chowan, Perquimans (copy) | Local
A non-profit telecommunications cooperative based in Brunswick County is applying for a federal grant to bring high-speed Internet to rural sections of Chowan and Perquimans counties.
Representatives of the Atlantic Telephone Membership Corporation made presentations at the regular August 2 meetings of the Chowan and Perquimans County Commissioners’ Councils. Both Boards approved the writing and sending of letters in support of the ATMC grant application.
Jody Huestess, vice president of marketing and customer service at ATMC, explained that if the grant goes, the nonprofit plans to install 377 miles of fiber optic cable. The total cost of the project is $ 28.8 million and the grant request represents 90 percent of that amount.
Huestess said ATMC would pay around $ 2.9 million if it received the grant.
The agency that makes the grants available for rural broadband projects is the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
Huestess said there was no financial obligation for the counties. The phrase county support is simply an approval of ATMC’s application for grant funds.
If approved, the grant would allow ATMC to serve approximately 5,500 customers in the two counties, or approximately 2,300 Perquiman homes and 2,200 in Chowan.
Areas of Perquimans that should benefit from service – or improved speeds – include Durants Neck, Chapanoke, the western part of Bethel, and Belvidere.
In Chowan, areas likely to benefit include areas north and west of Edenton, such as Rocky Hock and Tyner, and areas in the southeastern part of the county, such as Drummond’s Point.
Huestess said he wanted to be clear that there is no guarantee that ATMC will receive the grant. The nonprofit has a good track record in securing grants, he said, but every grant process is a new endeavor.
“It’s not a guarantee that this will happen,” Huestess told the Perquimans board of directors.
The grant application is due August 17, and NTIA is expected to begin announcing grant winners in late November.
Huestess said ATMC was excited about the opportunity to expand into northeastern North Carolina, hire local people to network here, and be part of both communities.
ATMC is a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative that was formed in the early 1950s to provide telephone service to areas of Brunswick County that were not served by existing businesses. Services provided by ATMC now include high speed Internet, cable television, business communications and security.
The company’s mission has expanded beyond Brunswick and neighboring Columbus County to now include other underserved areas in rural counties along the North Carolina coast.