The Orange County Broadband Initiative
County appoints members to Broadband Task Force
The Orange County Board of Commissioners filled the five public openings on its new Orange County Broadband Task Force at its Feb. 2 business meeting.
The appointed members are: Vasu Kilaru, Paul Cardillo, Todd Broucksou, Patricia Hull and Terri Buckner. The five were chosen from among 35 applicants.
Commissioners Earl McKee, who petitioned for the creation of the task force, and Sally Greene were chosen to represent the BOCC on the 12-member task force. The other members are: Deputy County Manager Travis Myren, Doug Noell, Chief IT Operations Officer Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Dr. Monique Felder or Dr. Kathleen Dawson of Orange County Public Schools, Jeff Sural, Director NC Broadband Infrastructure Office (NC BIO), and Victoria P. Deaton, Compliance Specialist Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion at Durham Tech.
The task force was created in 2020 after a petition submitted by Commissioner Earl McKee.
“My primary reason for bringing this was because of the school shutdown and my concern over the fact that a lot of children were being underserved,” said McKee at the Board’s Nov. 17 business meeting. “It’s not just a school thing. It’s a jobs issue. It’s an issue for everyday living. It affects people who are isolated. I don’t expect the pandemic to last forever, but it has changed the dynamics of how we live. We have become extremely dependent on these electronic devices.”
The Board also adopted a charge for the task force:
- Discuss broadband solutions that will improve the quality of high speed internet services to Orange County residents
- Recommend a plan to the Board of Orange County Commissioners that will expand reliable high-speed internet services to all County residents and businesses.
The task force may consider other issues not related to items 1 or 2, at its discretion. The panel is scheduled to hold its first meeting in March.
When can I expect service? (updated Feb. 2020)
Open Broadband has started providing service to homes and businesses in and around the areas noted below. On the map below, note that the areas shaded in green and yellow and their corresponding larger light red concentric circles are the towers to which Open Broadband will be attaching equipment. Once this equipment is installed, Open Broadband will be contacting customers in those areas to see if the signal from these towers reaches their locations.
Here’s a link to a January 2020 Memo to the Orange County Board of County Commissioner regarding the Broadband Initiative. This memo includes a timeline of events and money spent to date on this initiative. Click here for the document.
Open Broadband has started providing service to homes and businesses in and around the areas below. Without getting into technical jargon, let’s just say that Open Broadband has hit some technical and service delivery snags that has caused the project to move slower than expected.
- Open Broadband has equipment on towers in or near the following areas of the county:
- Orange County Sportsplex
- Cedar Grove Firer Department
- Dorsett Farm Silo off of Old Cedar Grove Road
- Hillsborough Water Old Cedar Grove Road
- Check back here for any additional information regarding updates and changes.
What if my home is outside of the listed service areas? Can I still pre-register?
- Yes, you can pre-register no matter where you live. In fact, knowing the demand outside of the initial service areas may help shape future service areas.
- While we can’t speak for Open Broadband, they have said that their technology will have the ability to go beyond the 5 mile radii defined in Service Area Map and in fact, be able to serve some folks just beyond to the 5 mile border. The further you get out from the service area, the coverage may still be there, but it definitely starts to degrade by distance. All of this is may be good news for our residents not in the initial service areas, but at the moment Open Broadband is concentrating on offering 25 down and 3 up service to at least 90% of the residents in Phase 1 and Phase 2.
I need more information, how do I get it?
- Open Broadband can be reached by dialing 980-434-OPEN (6736) or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or going to their website http://openbb.net.
- Jim Northrup, Orange County Chief Information Officer, is the point of contact for this initiative. He can be reach by dialing 919-245-2276 or emailing email@example.com.
ORANGE COUNTY (Sept. 5, 2018) -- 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 undeserved 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.
If your home is included in one of the red circles that is on the map above, you have the ability to pre-register for the broadband internet here.