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Avery County Chamber of Commerce President presents a ceremonial fund reimbursement check to President and co-Owner Bill Shillito

Avery County Chamber of Commerce President presents a ceremonial fund reimbursement check to President and co-Owner Bill Shillito (LightLeap by North Carolina Wireless).

The occasion marks a milestone in the ongoing efforts of The Avery County Commissioners, the County Managers Office, and the Chamber of Commerce to expand Broadband capabilities in all parts of Avery County. The primary focus on this effort is the unserved and underserved regions of the county.


This recent milestone includes the expansion of the capabilities of LightLeap by more than doubling our thru put capacity. With this increased infrastructure capacity, we were able to expand deeper into the underserved areas of the County by adding Mini-Pops (points of presence) that allows us to reach additional house-holds stated Mr. Shillito.

The critical element in this expansion of broadband capability in Avery County was the recent release of Appalachian Regional Commission grant.  The funds were made available thru the efforts of The Avery County Manager’s Office, the Avery County Chamber of Commerce, and the High County Council of Governments.

The County Manager released a Request for Proposal (RFP).  The aim of the RFP was to expand Broadband in Avery County, with a focus on unserved areas of the County. LightLeap was chosen as the best respondent to that RFP.  With a solid proposal in hand the County applied for a grant with the help of the NC Dept of Information of Technology representatives to the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). The ARC approved the grant.

The Grant must be administered thru a Non-profit entity.  The Avery County Chamber offered to fill this critical role. Chamber Executive Director, Melynda Pepple stated that the Chamber continues to be highly motivated to assist this effort and chartered as a Non-profit Organization that strives for the growth and progress of our great county, this was a natural fit for us to foster this grant.

Ms. Pepple turned to the High-Country Council of Governments to assist in the intricate details of managing a complex contract and agreement required by the Grant agreement.  Ms. Pepple stated that the High-Country COG is instrumental in implementing the detailed work required.

The primary aim of the grant is to expand broadband to unserved and underserved regions of Avery County.  The results to date of the grant are a doubling of capacity on the fixed wireless infrastructure in Avery County.  This additional capacity has allowed LightLeap to expand coverage areas with additional Mini-pops in the Jonas Ridge region and further south. With these additions LightLeap now reaches an additional 96 households with non-data capped broadband service. The original goal of the grant was to reach 75 households. The success of the project is directly attributable to the excellent team work among the participants: The Avery County Manager’s Office, the Avery County Chamber or Commerce, the High-Country COG, the NC Department of IT, and private partner LightLeap by NC Wireless.


LightLeap is ably assisted in identifying, installing and servicing new households by Highland Electronics (Radio Shack) in Newland.  The owner Doug Gragg stated that it is exciting to see the additional households covered and that I can now fulfill their internet needs.

LightLeap by NC Wireless is excited to announce a partnership with RiverStreet of Wilkesboro, NC. RiverStreet is an extension of Wilkes Communications. RiverStreet is a leader in providing high-speed broadband to rural areas of NC. The combination of this leadership of fiber provider and the expertise of LightLeap by NCW in the fixed wireless efforts makes a formidable team.  Our goal is to continue to find low-cost methods to grow the broadband reach to all citizens of North Carolina. The partnership allows that to occur and advances time lines to do so stated Greg Coltrain of VP of RiverStreet.

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