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Posted on: September 5, 2018

Board approves plan to bring high-speed internet to rural areas of county

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High-speed internet access is on its way to several rural areas in Orange County, thanks to a public-private partnership between Orange County and Open Broadband, LLC, that was approved by the Board of County Commissioners during its Sept. 4 meeting.

Open Broadband LLC will receive a $500,000 grant from the county to help develop the next generation broadband infrastructure needed to meet the needs of many currently unserved and underserved Orange County residents. The two projects will reach approximately 2,700 of the almost 5,000 residential units that are not adequately served with broadband, said Orange County Information Technologies Director Jim Northrup.

“We are all very excited to see these wireless internet pilots become successful,” said Northrup. “Inadequate rural broadband is a national problem. The Board of Commissioners have made increased access to broadband a priority for the rural areas of Orange County. It’s nice to be part of an effort to improve Orange County’s broadband footprint.”

High-speed internet access is important for several reasons, said Northrup. It provides residents greater flexibility to work from home, helps students succeed in school and keeps people connected with family members.

In Fiscal Year 2017-18, funds were budgeted to create a scalable broadband solution to foster innovation, drive job creation, stimulate economic growth, and serve new areas of development in the community. Multiple vendors responded to Orange County’s Request for Proposals (RFP).

The pilot projects chosen will have a 36-month duration at which time the projects will be re-evaluated for economic viability, with no obligation for continued County support beyond the initial investment.

This initiative is part of a multi-track effort to enhance broadband and internet service technology to Orange County residents. Pending the results from these pilot efforts, similar partnerships and investment are planned to expand service to other areas of the County, and staff will continue to pursue all opportunities to expand these services to County residents.

Broadband services will be provided to residents by Open Broadband LLC.

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