Historically, Enfield was known for its tobacco and peanuts. Today, there’s a new wave cresting in this small rural community in eastern North Carolina.
Thanks to a recent $350,000 investment from Connect Humanity, a start-up Internet service provider (ISP) – Wave 7 Communications – is now expanding its fledgling fixed wireless network to bring high-speed Internet service to nearly a quarter of the town’s 2,300 residents.
“This is in direct response to the need we identified,” Wave 7 CEO and Founder LaShawn Williamson told ILSR this week.
“We were finding customers who had Internet service before, but couldn’t pay the bill. We wanted to help people stay out of broadband debt," Williamson said. "There is an older population here and lots of industry has moved out of town so there is a challenge with poverty. But everyone deserves access to the Internet.”
Creating a Wave of Affordable Connectivity
Before Wave 7 came along, the choices were either SuddenLink, CenturyLink, or nothing. But, as Williamson explained, a number of residents were “paying a lot of money for a little bit of Internet and going into broadband debt.”
It was a recipe for financially-strapped households to be cut off from service and left on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Initially, Williamson wanted to launch Wave 7 in Greensboro where she lives with her husband. In 2018, a tornado hit the city. “The tornado tore through here and knocked out the Internet. It was taking a long time to get back up and running and even when they did the service was frustrating,” she recalled. “So I began to wonder what it would take to start our own Internet company.”
A longtime entrepreneur who runs an event planning, management and marketing business, Williamson began to research how to become a local Internet service provider. The "aha" moment came when she saw a YouTube video posted by Graham Castleton, founder of a consulting service focused on helping public and private organizations bring better broadband to their communities.
Williamson connected with Castleton who led her to Deborah Simpier, co-founder and...Read more