Four County Electric Membership Corporation Plays Pivotal Role in Helping Bring High-Speed Internet to Pender County
Pender County, NC – FOCUS Broadband and Four County Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) are cooperatively working to bring high-speed internet service to unserved communities in Pender County. Through this partnership, Four County EMC is allowing FOCUS Broadband to utilize a portion of their fiber-optic network to make high-speed internet service available in western portions of the county more quickly.
To make high-speed internet service available in Pender County, FOCUS Broadband must connect the Pender County network they are constructing to their existing fiber optic network in Columbus County. When the company encountered delays boring under the Cape Fear River and Black River, Four County EMC stepped in and made a portion of their fiber optic network available on a temporary basis to complete the connection. As a result, residents in the Canetuck, Atkinson, and Grady communities will have access to gigabit broadband speeds much sooner. “Cooperation among cooperatives is a principle we believe in,” commented Jeremy Dewberry, Marketing and Energy Services Supervisor at Four County EMC. “By helping FOCUS Broadband we’re helping our members gain access to this critical service, and that is great for our community.”
This is not the first time that Four County EMC and FOCUS Broadband have partnered together. In 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, the cooperatives worked together to provide Wi-Fi hotspots at several Pender County Schools, and last spring FOCUS Broadband was able to use a connection provided through Four County’s network to make high-speed internet available to Four County EMC members in Duplin County.
“I can’t say enough about how great Four County has been to work with,” commented Keith Holden, FOCUS Broadband CEO. “We have seen firsthand how much they care about their members because they have gone above and beyond to help us connect Duplin and Pender counties to the the incredible opportunities this project will provide.”
FOCUS Broadband’s Pender County project is being made possible using a $21.6 million dollar grant from the USDA ReConnect Grant Program and the company will provide up to $7.2 million in matching funds for the project. FOCUS Broadband has already begun serving customers in Pender County and once complete, more than 7,000 unserved addresses will have access to high-speed internet. Last August, FOCUS Broadband was also awarded a $4 million dollar grant through the NC Department of Information Technology’s GREAT Grant program to bring high-speed internet to an additional 1,331 addresses located in rural areas which were not included in the 2020 ReConnect Grant award. FOCUS Broadband will contribute $547 thousand dollars and Pender County will provide an additional $547 thousand dollars using American Rescue Plan Act funds.
FOCUS Broadband is now offering high-speed internet service in areas of Duplin and Pender counties and additional areas will continue to come online as construction is completed. For more information on FOCUS Broadband’s progress in Pender County, or to see where service is available, visit www.fasterpender.com.
About FOCUS Broadband
FOCUS Broadband is a member-owned cooperative providing a multitude of communications services, including telephone, business services, wireless, broadband internet, cable television, and home security, in Brunswick County, North Carolina. FOCUS Broadband provides services in additional areas through its wholly owned subsidiary, ATMC, LLC. FOCUS Broadband is the largest communications cooperative in North Carolina and one of the largest in the country. For more information on products and services from FOCUS Broadband, visit www.focusbroadband.com.
About Four County Electric Membership Corporation
Four County EMC serves members throughout Bladen, Duplin, Pender, Sampson, Columbus and Onslow Counties by delivering electricity to approximately 34,000 meters. For more information about the electric cooperative, visit www.fourcty.org.