Flagler broadband initiative looks to expand online access

Better internet connections are coming to Flagler County, according to a county media release.

Flagler County commissioners approved plans to partner with a subsidiary of Charter Communications to expand broadband capabilities in the western part of the county in three phases. A final contract still must be approved by county officials.

The project is expected to cost more than $7 million and will be paid for largely through grants and financial backing from Charter Communications, the release states. Flagler County is providing $1 million of the project cost with funds from the federal American Rescue Plan.

“We are focused on moving forward with Phase 1,” said Jorge Salinas, deputy county administrator, in the release. “Flagler County will continue to seek grant opportunities to close the $1.8 million funding gap for Phase 2 and Phase 3.”

Phase 1 is expected to be completed at the end of 2023.

Greg Blose´, president and CEO of the Palm Coast/Flagler Chamber of Commerce, said the broadband expansion is good news for residents – and could be a boon for businesses as well.

“Phase 1 is the human story behind this, doing the right thing expanding broadband westward,” he said. “Certainly when you look at building this type of infrastructure, it will allow for the opportunity to create business opportunities on the west side of the county.”

Blose´, who is a member of the county’s broadband task force, said the expansion of internet access puts Flagler in a forward-looking position as new digital technologies emerge.

“I think it’s really important to have network connectivity,” he said. “We don’t know what the future is going to hold for employment.”

Blose´ said the rapid growth of work-from-home opportunities – both as a natural development and in response to the Covid-19 pandemic – make increased access to broadband a necessity.

“When you look at the ability of people to work remotely now, I think it’s seriously important that we as a county are looking to the future and the workforce will evolve,” he said.

Blose´ said county government deserves a lot of credit for moving the broadband initiative forward.

“This is an example of Flagler County getting it right,” he said. “The county has been all-in on this and really helpful.”

 

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