PITTSBORO, N.C. — “Stay-at-home” orders across the country have forced more people in the Triangle to work from home and to attend classes online.
In Chatham County, working from home is challenging for people as county officials said roughly half of residents have no access to the internet at all.
Kaan Ozmeral teaches math for Central Carolina Community College and the coronavirus has forced him to teach his classes from home.
But the only problem is he does not have access to internet at his home in Pittsboro.
“It’s a fairly populous area and there are plenty of neighborhoods, but they just decided it wasn’t economical to run wire there,” Ozmeral said.
Ozmeral said he lives close to the Weaver Street Market where he can get access to the town of Carrboro’s hot spot.
So every morning he pulls in the parking lot and works from his car.
“I know the internet will work, and there’s a great coffee shop around the corner when I need refueling,” Ozmeral said.
Darlene Yudell, IT director for Chatham County, said roughly 50 percent of the county does not have access to the internet at all.
Yudell said one reason for this is that internet providers find it is too expensive to provide internet in rural areas.
“A service provider might have to run 10 to 50 miles of fiber and at $35,000 per mile, that’s too much of an investment,” Yudell said. “So they choose not to go there.”
Yudell said also there are laws that limit a provider’s ability to provide service as she said there are certain territories where only certain internet providers can provide service.
She said Chatham County has representation at the legislature pushing for better opportunities for internet in rural counties.
“The only way the private providers are going to get services out to everyone is if the lobbyists can stop preventing them from doing,” Yudell said.
At the county level, Yudell said they have partnered with Randolph Communications to provide internet access to people in the Northwest Park area of Chatham County.
In addition, Yudell said the county is working to put in new towers in hopes of getting more internet providers to offer wireless internet in the county.
For now, Ozmeral said all he can do is wait and hope that in the future he can access the internet from home.
“It’s the backbone of everything we’re doing right now,” Ozmeral said.
- Durham Rescue Mission provides shelter to homeless as snow and bitter cold can be ‘really dangerous’
- Gov. Cooper’s proposed requirement for state workers to get COVID-19 booster remains unclear
- NC high school student taken to hospital after health emergency caused by vaping
- Raleigh businesses determined to stay open and recoup losses despite 3rd weekend winter storm in a row
- Boston under threat for historic snowfall; NYC and other Northeast areas brace for massive blizzard