LittleT State of the Union 2020
It has been quite a while since our last post, and it is now the start of a new year and new decade. What has transpired with Little T Broadband Services (LTBS) in the past 3 1/2 months?
Over the past months, we have been engaged with Balsam West to solicit bids on the engineering work needed for the LTBS Phase 1 project in Tessentee and Scaly. We have now been through two rounds of RFP (Requests for Proposal) and discussion with two engineering companies, and have received final bids. In December we also began exploring some ways to accelerate development for portions of the LTBS Phase 1 project. This would focus on providing “hotspot” connectivity to the two community centers and fire stations. We are working up new cost numbers for this alternative proposal. More on this later.
In the end it is about the money... The LTBS project has never been difficult to solve on the technical side, the issue has always been trying to find ways to fund it. For-profit companies have no interest in financing our project on their own, as there simply are not enough residents and businesses in our area to pay for the investment. This means that grants and donations are our primary means of funding the project.
The LTBS grant team has been very active. One major source of funding for internet development is through the USDA RUS ReConnect program. During the month of November, members of the LTBS grant team attended the USDA ReConnect workshop in Raleigh, and participated in the Round 2 webinar that USDA held in December. The grant team has also been busy working on research and applications for a number of other grant and funding sources.
What about the money promised to LTBS from Macon County? The short answer is that to date, no money has been received from Macon County. When the county commissioners voted to provide grant money to LTBS back in September, this was done with the provision that the county could do so in line with current NC statutes as interpreted by the county’s attorney. Unfortunately, there have been a number of impediments that have kept the county from following through on their intent and releasing grant funds. Though we are still hopeful that these issues will be resolved, there is no certainty that any funding can or will be provided from Macon County.