MCNC Preparing To Connect North Carolina
The non-profit unveiled a new plan for the next four years to facilitate broadband Internet expansion into rural areas.
MCNC already serves K-12 schools, community colleges and universities, and it hopes to expand those services throughout the state. The organization said it also hopes to bring state and local governments, private telecom partners and other non-profits to the discussion.
MCNC President and CEO Jean Davis said reliable Internet access is part of being globally competitive.
“It's just meant to be a widely shared resource that all of our citizens can take part in and really important in terms of keeping this state competitive and keeping our citizens engaged,” Davis said.
Davis cited the “homework gap” as one reason for needing greater Internet access. Children have connectivity at school and can complete work there, but they fall behind at home.
“When they go home, they often aren’t able to do their homework or access the Internet like kids in the cities are,” Davis said. “As our state moves toward digital learning, we’ve got to find ways to help our students get connected.”
Though it’s a tall task to make North Carolina the most connected state, Davis said there’s a great group of people working on the issue.
“I really think that we are far ahead others in that kind of collaborative spirit where we can really understand what our assets are, leverage the networks that we have and pull folks in so we can really make some things happen,” Davis said. “And that's unusual. You don't see this happening in many states.”
Davis said MCNC will work to align various parties in the same direction, such as working with the state to advise towns on the best practices and resources available. She admits connectivity is an ambitious goal, but rather than tackling the problem all at once, she wants to focus on the micro level in individual communities and expand.
“People are interested in new technologies that might help with extending the connectivity into rural areas, so I think both new ideas and new technologies are what’s going to allow us to make new improvements,” Davis said.