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Roanoke Electric Co-op announces ‘Broadband & Beyond’ webinar series

Roanoke Electric Cooperative has announced a series of webinars to provide an update on its planned broadband rollout and share timely information on ways to bridge the digital divide during the pandemic.

The “Broadband and Beyond” information sessions will offer a progress report on the co-op’s Roanoke Connect initiative, with details about the new construction schedule and deployment timelines. The current plan calls for “fiber-to-the-premises” broadband, offering homes and businesses faster connection speeds and higher bandwidth. The co-op is ramping up to begin deployment of the upgraded high-speed internet service in October 2020.

The novel coronavirus has heightened awareness of the plight of those without internet access in North Carolina. It has also demonstrated the critical need for broadband connectivity in the rural areas of the co-op’s service territory.

“We are building our fiber network as fast we can to better serve our communities, but in the short term we want to offer some suggestions and solutions to help our member-owners during this pandemic,” Roanoke President and CEO Curtis Wynn.

To that end, the co-op has partnered with The Institute of Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University to offer the three-part webinar series. In addition to an update on Roanoke Connect, the webinars will also address the following related topics:

Accessing low-cost internet and devices – Tuesday, May 5, 11 a.m. – 12 noon. The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the critical need for solutions to overcome broadband barriers in rural communities. State and local representatives will offer timely information on how and where to access free and low-cost internet service options. They will also offer information on how to access low-cost devices, such as computers and laptops.

Dial in information for the May 5 event: Join Microsoft Teams Meeting +1 980-701-9168 (United States, Charlotte, Toll) Conference ID: 462 567 791#

Public WiFi: Challenges and Opportunities – Tuesday, May 12, 11 a.m. – 12 noon. The pandemic has prompted an immediate need in the community for access to public WiFi. More places have emerged offering free access to internet service. Where can these local hot spots be found? Presenters will also discuss some of the challenges of public WIFI during COVID-19 as well as address cybersecurity concerns.

Dial in information for the May 12 event: Join Microsoft Teams Meeting +1 980-701-9168 (United States, Charlotte, Toll) Conference ID: 973 383 033#

Telehealth in Response to COVID-19 – Tuesday, May 19, 11 a.m. – 12 noon. While telehealth is nothing new, it has become essential during this pandemic. To contain the spread of infection at hospitals, medical offices and clinics, there has been a growing reliance on virtual doctor’s visits to address health concerns remotely. The discussion will focus on the broad range of health care services now offered to patients digitally via computers and mobile devices.

Dial in information for the May 19 event: Join Microsoft Teams Meeting +1 980-701-9168 (United States, Charlotte, Toll) Conference ID: 399 224 406#

All member-owners are encouraged to participate in The Broadband & Beyond webinar series. The link to log in is provided for each date along with a dial in number. You will need join the webinar a few minutes early to download Microsoft Teams for free to see the virtual meeting.

REC officials encourage member- owners to use their free hot spot services to log on. Their website at roanokeelectric.com lists all the hot spots available across its service territory.

Each session will last about an hour, and participants will be in listen-only mode. All webinars will be recorded and posted on the co-op’s website following each session.

If you would like more information, contact Brittany Tann at BTann@roanokeelectric.com or Maggie Woods from IEI at mjwoods2@ncsu.edu.

Roanoke Electric Cooperative provides service to 14,500 members in Bertie, Hertford, Halifax, Northampton, Gates, Perquimans and Chowan counties.