Do you remember a time when connecting with family, friends and millions of strangers via social media, shopping for a next-day delivered birthday gift or instantaneously paying your electric bill online seemed like a novelty?

Neither do we.

Today, conducting our personal and professional business online is SOP for the majority of North Carolinians. Yet, in the most rural areas or our rural counties — such as those in the High Country — there yet exist pockets with limited internet connectivity. For these regions of Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties, dial-up or non-broadband service is still the norm, and posting to Facebook or online shopping is often more a chore than a pleasure.

Because of this, we are pleased to note that more widespread broadband coverage is at least on the radar of some Watauga County officials as a “look ahead” item for 2019.

As one official said, “it’s now essentially a utility that’s expected and required.”

With the way we work, shop and socialize today, this is a true statement. Yet, it’s not a statement that can be fulfilled by Watauga County government alone. As with the previous and current advance of this technology, it must be a partnership between public and private enterprises.

We are heartened by the foresight shown by the planning and inspections department of Watauga County as we move into the new year, and we encourage immediate exploration in moving toward complete county broadband connectivity. The yield of such an endeavor is one that will reach all areas of High Country life.

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