Hillsborough-based Piedmont Electric and RiverStreet Networks, based in Wilkes County, are working together to provide free Wi-Fi hotspots in rural communities where broadband internet service can be unreliable or expensive. Piedmont Electric will provide free Wi-Fi hotspots at its Person County and Caswell County offices. Individuals can access the internet from the safety of their vehicles.
“We are committed to the well-being of our members, employees and the community,” said Steve Hamlin, president and CEO of Piedmont Electric. “There are a lot of people out there without access to reliable internet and with many workers and students at home, it is more important now than ever to have access to good, reliable internet.”
The two companies launched a joint initiative in December 2019 to provide a more permanent solution to the lack of reliable broadband in rural communities, and are currently assessing the level of interest among Piedmont Electric members. Piedmont Electric members are encouraged to visit Join.BuildPiedmont.com to let the co-op know they are interested.
Once enough interest is gathered, RiverStreet will begin working on how to provide homes and businesses in the area with broadband internet. RiverStreet expects to start with wireless with the hope to transition to fiber to the home in areas where it is financially feasible. While the process of providing internet service is an expensive and time-consuming one, Hamlin urged those who are interested to register and spread the word.
“While we know projects like this take time, we want to assure everyone that we are in this for the long-haul,” Hamlin said. “We want to help bridge the urban rural divide and ensure that our communities remain a great place to live, work and raise a family.”