The Village of Bald Head Island, North Carolina, recently released a Request for Proposals (RFP), in its search for an FTTP network. The Village, home to about 160 year-round residents, is accessible only by ferry. Transportation on the island is limited to feet, bikes, and electric golf carts. While they may choose slower transportation methods, the people of the island want speed when it comes to Internet access.
Members of the community began working on the idea in the summer of 2013 as part of an initiative that involved several challenges facing this quiet community. They determined that the economic health of local businesses and quality of life depended on improving access, traditionally provided by AT&T and Tele-Media.
Real estate professionals on the island noted that lack of broadband interfered with the housing market. According to the RFP:
Adequate broadband service is at such a premium that current real estate transactions require conveyance of current Internet service. Otherwise, new installations can take a very long time. Inadequate broadband is a known and aggravating hindrance to daily operations of local businesses. There is very strong demand from prospective real estate buyers for high-speed broadband. Current services are of inadequate quality, and worsen in bad weather and during peak usage.
After reaching out to incumbents and potential new providers, Bald Head Island's Village Council chose to open up the possibilities and issue an RFP.
While the number of year round residents is small, part-time housing, vacation rentals, and local businesses catering to tourists are plentiful. As a result, a fiber network could reach approximately 2,500 premises. The population of the island varies based on holidays, with the number of people as high as 7,000. Community leaders expect it to increase significantly when fiber comes to the island.
We reached out to Calvin Peck, Village Manager:
"We are looking for a partner. We think fiber to the home is the way to do it. At this point there is no broadband on the island that fits the FCC's definition."
The community's main industries are real estate and tourism. While we often think of "getting away from it all" as a vacation gold standard, a number of visitors have told Peck they will vacation elsewhere until the island can get its connectivity... Read more