By Staff Report, posted Jun 1, 2023 on BizFayetteville.com
FOCUS Broadband announced that fiber optic high-speed internet is now available in more rural areas of Robeson County. Residents living in areas of Barker Ten Mile, Howellsville, and Tolarsville now have access to fast internet. The project was made possible by a $2.9 million dollar grant awarded in December of 2021 through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Community Connect Program.
FOCUS Broadband is contributing an additional $450,000 in matching funds which will be used to serve the communities of Barker Ten Mile, Howellsville, Tolarsville and areas outside the town of St. Pauls.
Once complete, the project will cover 22.88 square miles and be able to serve as many as 1,200 homes and businesses.
As part of the project, FOCUS Broadband is also working to open a community center equipped with computers, a printer, and wi-fi access at the Barker Ten Mile Community Center located at 4823 Barker Ten Mile Road in Lumberton. The community center will provide a place for residents to browse the internet, apply for jobs or work on homework. The company plans to open the community center by mid-June.
“FOCUS Broadband is grateful to the USDA for awarding this grant and we appreciate their ongoing efforts to support rural broadband,” commented Keith Holden, CEO of FOCUS Broadband in a press release. “We are delighted to bring our fiber optic services to Barker Ten Mile and surrounding communities. We know that our services, along with the community center, will be a great benefit to residents and business owners in these rural areas.”
FOCUS Broadband began serving customers in Robeson County in 2021 through two state funded GREAT grants won by the company in 2020. Service is now available for many in Proctorville, Orrum and Fairmont. In August of 2022, the company won an additional $4 million GREAT grant for Robeson County that will allow it to expand high-speed internet service to more than 1,800 addresses near the communities of Parkton and Lumber Bridge. This project is now underway. Finally, in September of 2022, FOCUS Broadband announced a $24.6 million USDA ReConnect grant to serve Robeson and Scotland counties. The ReConnect grant funds will be used to bring fiber optic, high-speed internet to more than 4,000 homes in rural, underserved communities between Rowland, Raemon and Maxton and areas along Singletary Church Road in Robeson County. Funds for this project were just recently released and work is now underway designing this project.
To find out where FOCUS Broadband service is available in Robeson County, visit www.fasterrobeson.com. Residents and businesses interested in signing up for FOCUS Broadband service can call 888-367-2862.
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