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Yadtel hopes to spread broadband even further

By Jeanna Baxter White

Word Master Media Group

Access to high-speed internet is a cornerstone of prosperity, and many of America’s rural communities, including areas of Davie County,  lack access to this critical infrastructure.

As detailed by the N.C. Department of Information Technology (NCDIT),  Broadband allows citizens more affordable and efficient access to basic amenities such as education, healthcare, public safety, and government services by:

• affording residents the opportunity to participate in online learning and distance education;

• giving entrepreneurs and small and home-based business owners the opportunity to compete alongside large corporations;

• increasing the productivity and efficiency of businesses who utilize the internet for their operations;

• connecting patients in remote areas to health care services;

• making government services more readily available;

• saving companies and organizations money by letting employees telework; and

• allowing friends and families to stay in touch with one another.

The 2020 pandemic accentuated gaps in the digital divide between rural and urban Americans. Yadtel Telecom is dedicated to closing that gap for Davie residents.

Last October,  the company received a $2.3 million ReConnect Program grant from the USDA to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to businesses and residences without 10/1 Mbps internet service. This investment will allow the company to lay another 70 miles of fiber connecting 5,686 people, 67 farms, and 18 businesses to high-speed broadband internet in Davie, Yadkin, and Iredell counties.

Now Yadtel is in the running for a CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The completion of this grant application was a joint effort between Yadtel and the Piedmont Triad Regional Council (PTRC).  If funded, this grant will allow Yadtel to construct 111.5 miles of fiber optic cable in six areas of Davie County that lack access to high-speed internet. When complete, this construction will pass 2,168 Davie County businesses and residences.      

“Yadtel Telecom is proud to be a premier provider of reliable, high-speed internet. We are fully committed in our efforts to be a partner in the deployment of high-speed broadband e-Connectivity to areas in local communities that lack access to such critical infrastructure,” said Janet Culpepper, vice president of human resources and public relations at Yadtel Telecom. “Yadtel is passionate about building essential infrastructure to meet the critical needs for high-speed broadband internet in unserved and underserved rural communities.”

Education is an area where the lack of access to broadband is most keenly felt. Studies indicate that:

• 75,000 students in rural areas of North Carolina have no access to broadband;

• rural Americans are 24% more likely to have children who are unable to participate in online learning, while the parents are unable to work from home.

Davie County is no exception.

According to Jenni Pleasant, Davie County Schools (DCS) marketing and communications officer, the school system coordinated grant opportunities that provided approximately 100 hotspots with unlimited data plans to families that demonstrated need.

To further ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed during remote learning, DCS worked with the Davie County Chamber of Commerce to establish partnerships with local businesses where students can use their Wi-Fi and has set up access points outside many schools which extend into parking lots and most public parks.

“Yadkin Valley Telephone has been a great partner in helping address those areas of need and helping families afford connectivity,” said Pleasant. “The school system’s relationship with our corporate neighbors has played an invaluable role to extend instruction to families during this unprecedented time.”

Terry Bralley, president of the Davie County Economic Development Commission, appreciates Yadtel’s efforts and recognizes the value that grants like these bring to the community.

“Grants like these are crucial to rural areas. The areas under-served or not served in Davie are like many rural areas, not populated enough for the private sector or any provider to get their proper return on their investment. Grants from other sources can help connect these areas much like rural electric companies and telephone co-ops did decades ago.

“By embracing opportunities we can make possibilities become realities. The impact on education,  businesses, and farms are necessary for the continuance of lifelong learning and moving our economy forward.”

Yadkin Valley Telephone Membership Corporation is a member-owned non-profit cooperative founded in 1950 in the Piedmont. The company’s origin was a grassroots effort to provide telephone service to rural areas deemed unprofitable by commercial telephone companies. The mission has expanded to include bringing high-speed broadband fiber internet to unserved rural areas.