Spectrum expands internet service in rural western Rowan County

Published 12:02 am Friday, April 29, 2022

SALISBURY — Spectrum on Tuesday announced an expansion of its broadband internet services to include several hundred new homes and small businesses in western Rowan County.

The company says it has built out its fiber-optic lines near Cleveland and Mount Ulla to service 270 customers on Amity Hill, Childers, Mount Tabor Church, Ketchie, Hall and Joe Rankin Roads. Those customers will now have access to Spectrum’s broadband internet. Those customers will have access to the company’s internet, mobile, TV and voice services.

“Our commitment is making it possible to deliver the high-value broadband, mobile, TV and voice services now available in Rowan County,” Jonathan Holt, Vice President of Construction at Spectrum, said in a news release. “We are providing superior connectivity to local residents and small businesses at highly competitive prices, backed by an organization committed to craftsmanship and service.”

Cleveland Mayor Pat Phifer said he is glad to hear that another internet option is being made available to folks near the town because there is a “terrible need” in the area for broadband. Phifer said he’d like to see more internet options established northwest of the town as well.

Spectrum, formally Charter Communications, is currently investing several billion dollars to expand its network into rural communities across the country. The company’s efforts are buoyed by a $1.2 billion from the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, a $20.4 billion fund established in 2019 to bring high speed fixed broadband service to rural homes and small businesses that lack it.

Spectrum estimates its expansion will provide broadband access to approximately one million customer locations across 24 states in the coming years.

Spectrum’s network expansion project in Rowan County began late last year and will continue for the next several months, according to a company spokesperson.

For customers in its new buildout area, the company says it offers starting speeds of 200 Mbps (megabits per second), with its “ultra” internet providing download speeds of 400 Mbps. For small and medium-sized businesses, Spectrum Business Internet offers download speeds of 200 Mbps, 600 Mbps and 1 Gbps. More information about Spectrum’s services are available at spectrumruralexpansion.com.

The company is one of several internet providers who have expanded or are planning broadband expansions into rural areas of Rowan County.

Open Broadband is now offering its internet services in Rowan County after a multi-year effort to establish broadband infrastructure. Randy Cress, chief information officer for Rowan County, said Open Broadband is currently working to bring customers who are on a waitlist online. Open Broadband uses a fixed-wireless system to transmit radio signals via antennas from towers directly to a receiver on a customer’s home, as opposed to fiber cables.

Zirrus, formerly known as Yadtel, is planning to expand its services into northwestern and southeastern Rowan County. The Rowan County Board of Commissioners in March pledged to provide the company with up to $1.98 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to incentivize its expansion, dependent on Zirrus receiving a Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grant from the state.

Spectrum, OpenBroadband and Conterra Networks are considering applying for GREAT grants. Those companies will request a commitment from Commissioners for matching funds as well, but Cress said the county will only distribute $1.98 million total even if multiple companies are selected to receive a GREAT grant from the state. Commissioners will consider those requests during their meeting on Monday at 3 p.m. at the Rowan County Administration Building.

About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at ben.stansell@salisburypost.com.

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