By: The News Reporter ATMC announced Monday that the company has begun construction on its ‘Faster Columbus’ USDA ReConnect Grant project which will make high speed internet access available to approximately 4,000 unserved households in rural Columbus County. The project will cover approximately 155 square miles, and include underserved communities near Tabor City, Hallsboro, Lake Waccamaw, Bolton, and areas north of Whiteville. Construction has begun along N.C. 904 in areas east of Tabor City. As phases are completed, residents and businesses will have access to high speed internet speeds of up to 1 Gigabit as well as digital cable TV, home telephone, and home security and automation services.
The areas shown in blue will have access to high-speed internet service through ATMC’s latest construction project.
The ‘Faster Columbus’ project was made possible through a $7.9 million dollar grant ATMC received in late 2019 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ReConnect Broadband Program. ATMC will provide $7.9 million dollars in matching funds to bring the total project investment to $15.87 million. In addition to the residential addresses, the project will make service available to over 50 businesses, ten educational facilities, three critical community facilities, and 23 agricultural operations. While ATMC has up to five years to complete the project, the company’s aim is to finish within 24 months, dependent upon availability of materials and weather. “With any project that receives funding from a government source, there is a lot of preparation and paperwork that must be completed before you can begin,” said Keith Holden, ATMC’s CEO. “But we are excited to now be moving forward and plan to build as fast as possible because the need for high speed internet in these communities is more critical now than ever.” ATMC has served residents and businesses in Columbus County for over a decade. In 2010, ATMC received a $12 million grant through the USDA to bring high speed internet to over 2,000 residents and businesses in Nakina and Old Dock. Last month, the company announced the completion of a project made possible through a grant won in the 2019 NC G.R.E.A.T. Grant Program. This project made high speed internet available to 1,200 households in the Beaverdam community. And, in August, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that ATMC was a recipient of an additional grant through the 2020 NC G.R.E.A.T. Grant Program that will allow the company to provide internet services to an additional 1,200 households in Fair Bluff and Boardman. To support its growing Columbus County customer base, in March, ATMC opened a customer care center in Whiteville behind the Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation location on Highway 130. “ATMC would like to again express our thanks to those that helped make this ReConnect grant a reality,” said Holden. “We are thankful to the USDA, Congressman David Rouzer, Representative Brenden Jones, Representative Carson Smith, Senator Danny Britt, the Columbus County Board of Commissioners, and the many community supporters, residents and businesses that sent in letters of support for this project. We look forward to bringing great internet service to more areas of Columbus County.” More information about ATMC’s progress on its high-speed internet expansion projects is available at www.fastercolumbus.com or 910-754-4311.