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Officals working to bring internet to more of Onslow County

Michael Lazzara, the mayor pro-tem for Jacksonville, said many of the rural communities have little to no internet service. They want to fix that. (Greg Payne, NewsChannel 12 photo)

Officials from the City of Jacksonville are trying to change a state policy that prevents municipalities from being able to offer internet service.

Michael Lazzara, the mayor pro-tem for Jacksonville, said many of the rural communities have little to no internet service. He attributes that to the fact the state doesn't allow municipal leadership to have partnerships with private groups to provide broadband access.

Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Jacksonville Youth Center, there will be a speak-up for better broadband event. It will allow the public to vote their concerns regarding broadband issues.

"We are trying to drive the conversation to initiate policy change to the general assembly to allow municipal governments to have the opportunities to enter in to public private partnerships with anyone that may be able to provide broadband," Lazzara said.

Officials said even though the event is in Jacksonville, anyone can come to voice their concerns. As for feedback, they said the more people that show up, the better chance the policy can be changed.

Below is a press release from the City of Jacksonville about the meeting.

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The economic and quality of life issues for better broadband are part of the discussion for a statewide listening tour that ends in Jacksonville Wednesday.

The educational event will provide information on how other communities and states have solved the issue for their jurisdictions. The Jacksonville session is set for 6PM, Wednesday, January 30, 2019 at the Jacksonville City Hall, 815 New Bridge Street, right across from the Youth Center.

Jacksonville is third site hosting a statewide conversation about high speed and reliable broadband access for all of the State.

Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance will speak of innovative projects that are taking place across the country and how North Carolina Communities can do the same.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is an organizer of the event with the NC League of Municipalities and NC Broadband Matters – a group promoting gigabit access for North Carolina. The partnership seeks to facilitate community discussions about improving the availability of fast, affordable, and reliable, broadband Internet access throughout the state.

League officials, including Jacksonville Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lazzara who is president this year, say they have heard communities complain that without high-speed and reliable networks, they will be left behind economically and could miss out on key economic opportunities.

The session will feature presentations from local and national experts, a question and answer session and time to network with community members interested in improving local connectivity.

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