The Next Wave Of Wireless Internet In WNC On Its Way

Dec 12, 2016

Students at UNC-Asheville and Lenoir-Rhyne presented the challenges local governments in the area face in upgrading wireless capabilities
Credit Matt Bush WQCS

Efforts to speed up wireless internet service throughout western North Carolina are speeding up themselves, thanks to a six-city partnership.

Wifi has rapidly speed up throughout the region in the last decade, but Bill Sederburg says it’s time for the next step.  The coordinator of the West Next Generation Network says that is “gigabit” internet service.

“It means much faster downloads for video.  It means the ability for hospitals to have branch campuses (that can) access to MRI and X-ray images and stuff like that”, according to Sederburg.

Six cities – Asheville, Laurel Park, Biltmore Forest, Waynesville, Fletcher, and Hendersonville – have partnered to bring gigabit service to their areas.  They’ll soon choose a provider, and hope to have the service started in six months.  The six-city partnership will help drive the cost of the project down, no light task given that laying fiber optic cable in rocky and mountainous areas is quite expensive according to Sederburg.  But he adds the cost would be greater to the growing region if it did nothing.

“There’s a huge entrepreneurial spirit (in this region).  And that entrepreneurship is being done with the assistance of the internet and high speed capacity", says Sederburg.  "We’re not going to be competitive with other areas for attracting young talent and building the economic base unless we have adequate speed and bandwidth.”

The six cities hope to add others in western North Carolina to their partnership once their initial gigabit project is complete.