LINVILLE FALLS — Parts of Southern Avery County will have access to high-speed Internet by early 2018 thanks to joint efforts between the local real estate development firm Blackpoint at Linville Falls, the Blackpoint at Linville Falls Homeowners’ Association (HOA), and the telecommunications services company SkyLine/SkyBest.
Work on the project, which will involve the installation of 12 miles of high-speed fiber optic cable from Linville to Blackpoint at Linville Falls, was slated to begin in late August/early September.
“Our 40-home community will be wired with state-of-the-art fiber-optic high-speed Internet,” Blackpoint at Linville Falls Broker Karen M. Salle said. “That service will also be available to the residents and businesses along 221 from Linville to the county line.”
Blackpoint at Linville Falls has agreed to contribute approximately $350,000 in infrastructure and other services to facilitate this project, while SkyLine/SkyBest will pay the remaining balance of the project.
Through this undertaking, Blackpoint at Linville Falls and SkyLine/SkyBest aim to fill an internet coverage gap in the local community. The availability of high-speed Internet is lacking across the state, as North Carolina lags behind most other states in widespread access to broadband.
“SkyLine Membership Corporation has the most extensive fiber network in the High Country, with now more than 98 percent of its five-county, cooperative service area able to access the fastest broadband speeds available,” SkyLine Public Relations Administrator Karen Powell said in a statement to The AJT. “In Avery County, SkyBest Communications, Inc., SkyLine’s wholly-owned subsidiary, is extending the company’s reach into contiguous communities like Linville Falls by working with real estate developments such as Blackpoint at Linville Falls to provide fiber-based broadband services to residential communities, along with seeking grant opportunities to extend fiber broadband services to additional unserved areas of Avery, Watauga and Johnson (Tenn.) counties.”
The coverage gap is particularly pronounced in rural counties, especially those located in Appalachia. For example, in Avery County, between 18.1 and 35 percent of county residents lack access to high-speed broadband Internet.
Bridging this gap is crucial to shoring up the local economy. It will also expand adults’ access to the Internet for the purposes of completing online job applications. In addition, the initiative expands reliable Internet access for schoolchildren to complete homework assignments, which is a necessity in the modern-day educational system. Finally, this project will also likely increase property values and expand the local tax base, as numerous studies have demonstrated surges in home values ranging between 3.1 and 10 percent upon the installation of high-speed Internet.
Regarding the importance of high-speed Internet for the local community, Salle said, “This project is absolutely vital to our local community’s success. The residents of Avery County will collect the returns of such an investment for many years to come.”
Salle also emphasized Blackpoint at Linville Falls’ relationships with local partners as crucial to their success in launching this project. Specifically, Salle said that their banking partner, Hallie Tucker, the vice president of Mountain Community Bank, and the Avery County Chamber of Commerce have been vital collaborators in bringing high-speed Internet to the region.
This project will begin in August and is expected to be completed by January 2018, at which time local residents and businesses will be able to initiate high-speed Internet services.
Editor’s Note: Information in this release was provided by Blackpoint at Linville Falls, a real estate development firm located in Southern Avery County.