The Atlantic Telephone Membership Cooperative (ATMC) has completed the first of four phases of a broadband deployment project in rural North Carolina funded, in part, through the USDA ReConnect program. Broadband services reaching gigabit speeds now are available to residents and businesses in the New Life Community east of Tabor City, N.C.
In addition to broadband, the New Life Community also will get telephone services, digital cable, home security and automation services.
ATMC is a member-owned cooperative that provides telephone, business services, wireless, broadband internet, cable television, and ATMC Security, in Brunswick County, N.C. A wholly-owned subsidiary serves other areas.
When all four phases of the ATMC ReConnect project are complete, broadband will be available to more than 4,000 addresses in rural Columbus County communities of Hallsboro, Lake Waccamaw, Bolton and areas north of Tabor City and Whiteville. Construction is ongoing in the Hallsboro area, with the project scheduled for completion by the end of next year.
The project cost is $15.8 million, equally split between a U.S. Department of Agriculture ReConnect program grant made in December 2019 and matching funds from ATMC.
“This USDA ReConnect Grant project is allowing us to expand our network to bring Columbus County’s fastest internet service to more people who desperately need it,” ATMC CEO and General Manager Keith Holden said in a press release. “Our commitment to serving Columbus County is real and we can’t wait to show more people why our FOCUS fiber optics is Columbus County’s best internet service.”
In September 2020, the ReConnect program announced a $21.6 million grant to ATMC to deploy an FTTP network connecting 17,424 people, 209 farms, 285 business, 198 educational facilities, nine health care facilities, seven fire stations and seven post offices in Pinder County, NC.
During 2019 and 2020, the USDA’s ReConnect program invested in a combined 164 projects totaling about $1.34 billion. Projects were undertaken in 33 states and territories in 2019 and in 35 states and territories last year. The funding came in grants, loans and grant/loan combinations.
In March 2018, ATMC was one of four recipients of a Smart Rural Community Showcase Award from NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association