(NORTH CAROLINA NEWS NETWORK) — Rural North Carolina families continue to struggle with online access for school-age children.
According to the N.C. Broadband Infrastructure Office, or BIO, 1.6 million families in the state cannot access or afford home internet.
BIO Director Jeff Sural said getting providers to invest in these areas is a difficult sell because internet access is not regulated or classified as an essential service.
Sural says the pandemic has shown how critical internet access is for all families.
Additionally, 261,000 people live in areas with no service providers.
In some rural communities, the few options that exist do not support large downloads, extensive streaming and the demands of multiple devices.