Otto and Scaly Mountain are rural communities located in the mountainous region of Western North Carolina. The difficulty of building broadband networks in rugged terrain plus the low population density of the area have made it economically unattractive for large internet service providers to deliver consistent and usable internet services. This same situation also discourages cellular companies from making the investments needed to deliver consistent service to the area. As such, there are many areas of these communities with little or no internet service, and poor or no cellular service.
The population demographics of Western North Carolina communities like Otto and Scaly Mountain are diverse, containing younger residents, families with children, and a sizable senior/retired population. For all members of these communities, reliable communication and internet services are critical for education, medical care, emergency services, and general safety.
Building on earlier community initiatives, Little T Broadband Services, Inc. (LTBS) was formed in late 2018. This 501c3 non-profit organization was created to foster the development of true high-speed internet access for residents of Otto and Scaly Mountain. Ours is a small organization comprised of unpaid volunteers, and it is our goal to make a positive impact in local communities and the Western North Carolina region.
The original mission of this organization was to serve the Otto and Scaly communities through direct development, construction, and operation of a high-speed broadband network. The primary purpose of creating this network was to provide better access to educational, medical, emergency, and voice over internet (VoIP) services. Such a network helps to promote local business growth, access to new jobs, and enables access for telework. Ultimately, all of these enhanced services would help educate our students, make the area safer for residents, and boost the local economy.
Over the past several years, while the need for such a high-speed broadband network has become even more critical, due to a variety of factors LTBS has needed to change its methods for achieving this goal. We are now working with community organizations plus local, county, and regional government organizations, and service providers to help plan and develop broadband networks. This is accomplished through proposal development, consultation, technical analysis and mapping, grant research, and grant application support. In this sense the role of LTBS has changed to one of advocacy and support for development of rural broadband networks.
Though much of our focus remains on the Otto and Scaly Mountain communities, our scope of advocacy and support has expanded to include all of Macon County and other areas within Western North Carolina. The challenges facing most rural communities in the region are common with those in Otto and Scaly Mountain, and all will benefit from high-speed broadband development and expansion. Working with Macon County and other regional partners has broadened the available resources that can be utilized for these efforts.
Our organization is funded through donations, public grants, and fee-based compensation for planning and support services to providers, infrastructure owners, and local governments. While LTBS is not an internet service provider and is not directly eligible for large scale infrastructure grants, we do work to obtain smaller grants that can be used to provide direct benefits to the local communities, and we work with providers and local governments to assist in larger grant application development and management.
Little T Broadband Services appreciates all who have supported us over the past several years. We hope for that continued support as we progress towards the goal of making high-speed broadand internet available throughout our communities.