RiverStreet Networks and Piedmont Electric Membership Corporation Begin Pilot Planning for Rural Connectivity

People living in the service areas of Piedmont Electric Membership Corporation now have the opportunity to express their interest in broadband Internet access from RiverStreet Networks. In one of a series of pilot projects that we covered earlier this year, the two entities are getting started with planning on how to bring better connections to rural folks. People in the community — both members of Piedmont Electric and non-members — are encouraged to go to join.buildpiedmont.com and show their interest.

When enough people in specific areas have expressed their interest in receiving service from RiverStreet, the subsidiary of Wilkes Communications Co-op, will examine deployment.

The first phase, according to Piedmont Electric, will be a wireless solution for rural premises with Piedmont’s infrastructure as a backbone. Fixed wireless will deliver 25 Megabits per scond (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload and Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) could follow for some areas, depending on various factors:

By registering your address at the website, you are expressing your interest in having RiverStreet services. It’s really that simple! Once enough interest has been expressed in a specific area, RiverStreet will consider expanding their service network there. Bringing fiber optic service to a neighborhood is expensive and requires a large amount of resources and labor. The more supporters in your zone, the more likely RiverStreet is to bring high-speed internet service to your door.

Check out this short promotional video on the partnership to encourage people to express their interest:

“We are excited to work with RiverStreet in order to provide this critical need,” [Piedmont President and CEO Steve] Hamlin said. “While we know it will take years to mature and RiverStreet may not be able to serve everyone with wireless technology, we are happy to announce this first step in helping bridge the digital divide.”

According to the Mebane Enterprise, Piedmont Electric serves approximately 32,000 members in rural Alamance, Caswell, Durham, Granville, Orange and Person counties.

“Many homes, farms and businesses in our communities do not have adequate access to broadband service,” said Hamlin. “Every week we hear stories from our members about how students can’t complete their homework, families can’t connect to relatives, seniors can’t access telemedicine and businesses can’t connect to the services they need to grow and thrive.” 

Learn more about RiverStreet by listening to Christopher’s conversation with Greg Coltrain, Vice President of Business Development at the cooperative:

Image credit rharrison [CC BY-SA 3.0]