RiverStreet Networks is reaffirming their interest in providing broadband service in Fletcher, Hendersonville, Laurel Park, and Biltmore Forest. Over the next three months, citizens will receive direct marketing information from RiverStreet about the services they can provide to our area. If residents are interested in these services, they should follow the directions on the marketing material and visit https://join.buildriverstreet.com/ to provide RiverStreet with feedback. RiverStreet has indicated they will only enter our local market if they determine residents are interested in a new service provider.
“We are excited to have a new provider evaluate the potential of the broadband market in Western North Carolina,” said John Connet, City Manager of Hendersonville. “There is no doubt that high speed broadband is a prerequisite for economic growth and community growth.”
The arrival of RiverStreet is the result of the West Next Generation Network (WestNGN) initiative. WestNGN Broadband is a partnership of local governments consisting of the City of Asheville, City of Hendersonville, Town of Fletcher, Town of Laurel Park, Town of Biltmore Forest and Town of Waynesville (Phase I) and Transylvania, Madison, Henderson, and Buncombe counties (Phase II). These municipalities and counties are continuing their work to improve broadband access to Western North Carolina.
The Phase I communities of Hendersonville, Biltmore Forest, Laurel Park and Fletcher held community meetings in November and December to gather input from their residents about current broadband service and the desire for additional broadband providers in their communities. Following these meetings, the communities followed up with local providers about citizen concerns and have continued to encourage RiverStreet Networks to enter the local market.
The Phase II counties recently completed a demand aggregation study for the region. This study surveyed residents from all four counties to assess information such as service reliability, accessibility, and how people used broadband services. Over 7,000 responses came in from the region indicating this issue reaches a diverse audience supporting various demographic concerns. Land of Sky Regional Council of Government is currently developing reports with the survey results that will be shared with providers to identify issues and opportunities. In addition, the reports will include community information, vertical assets, and community assets that providers and local government officials will be able to access to assist with decision making to help deploy and improve services.
In addition to working with broadband providers, the local governments are encouraging state legislators to support legislation that will allow them to work with the broadband companies to improve high speed internet throughout North Carolina. An example of this legislation is the Electric Co-Op Rural Broadband Services. This legislation will allow companies such as RiverStreet Networks to work with rural electric cooperatives to provide high speed internet to rural areas. The WestNGN partners will continue to support all legislation that improves the access to broadband infrastructure.