MCC to Enhance Internet Connectivity for Montgomery County


After receiving nearly $500,000 through the Department of Education’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and distributing $191,488 to its 491 eligible students adversely impacted by the pandemic in June, Montgomery Community College (MCC) is using a significant portion of its remaining CARES Act funding to enhance Internet connectivity for Montgomery County residents.

MCC leadership has worked with leaders in five towns to determine the best locations for enhanced connectivity. The towns of Biscoe (Town Hall), Candor (John C. Currie Memorial Public Library), Mount Gilead (Highland Community Center), Star (STARworks) and Troy (Town Hall) will benefit. Some of these locations already maintain a municipal wireless network, connected to the Internet by several cable and telephone providers, providing broadband access via Wi-Fi. Extending these geographic areas to reach a higher percentage of Montgomery County residents of all ages is the aim of MCC’s generous effort.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many areas for improvement in American society, but one which affects our county every day is lack of access to the Internet,” explains Dr. Chad Bledsoe, president of MCC. “The digital gap for rural citizens has always existed, but it’s been laid bare during this health crisis as Montgomery County residents are trying to learn remotely, connect socially and shop responsibly. MCC now has the financial resources to help address this issue in partnership with Montgomery County Schools and local governments, and that’s what we intend to do.”

STARworks in Star, NC
STARworks, an arts-centered work community located at 100 Russell Drive in Star, is one of the sites which will benefit from the enhanced Wi-Fi program.

“MCS is appreciative of the support of MCC and local governments to assist with improving internet connectivity for families as we strive to make remote learning as successful as possible for each student, shares Dr. Dale Ellis, superintendent of MCS. “Our goal is always to make educational opportunities fair and equitable for our students. This continued partnership enables us to better serve our community by eliminating barriers.”

The college is investing in additional state-of-the-art hardware which will enable each location to extend its present wireless network. These wireless networks will feature numerous outdoor wireless access points, enhancing town management and public safety, while providing much-needed connectivity to people, and students of all ages within Montgomery County, without access to private high-speed services.

Assessment and procurement of the needed network hardware has begun, with extended network capabilities coming online throughout the fall. “We want MCC and MCS students to embrace the fall term, whatever that looks like, with confidence and optimism,” said Bledsoe. “There are enough unknowns ahead of us causing distress and anxiety. MCC has an opportunity to take Internet access off that list, and it’s our privilege to do it.”