The internet is our information super highway--it's open to everyone to drive, as long as you have the vehicle to do it. For parts of Eastern Carolina, that "vehicle" is broken down or even non-existent.
Monty Jones is self-employed with his own at home business. But he lives in Everetts in Martin County and can only surf the web on his phone when there's wireless service available, or travel to the local library.
Avis Wainwright does have internet access at her home, but it's dial-up.
Wainwright says, "Three miles down the road they have high speed internet. Where I live, three miles away, we do not and we have had a petition, all the things you'd think would make a difference, but they have not, so we are still dial up."
Brian Rathbone is a telecommunications specialist with a statewide initiative called NC Broadband. It's a program to find solutions to bring high speed or broadband internet to disadvantage areas.
He says, "We have a lot of challenges here, but local planning is where it begins for us cause it allows for us to go into the community, find the folks that are suffering, map them out, find the assets that will allow us to provide that service to them, then go to the private providers who want to service those areas and find what barriers are preventing them from going into those areas and find a way to knock down as many of those barriers as possible. That's when we start to see expansion."
Rathbone says there are 3 ways to provide high speed internet. Wireless, satellite and cable. But depending on the geography of the community, some services are too difficult to install.
In Eastern Carolina the trees, the estuaries and waterways are barriers. Plus, he says, private companies don't want to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring the service if there are not enough people to buy it.
Rathbone says access to internet is not just about downloading , games, music or movies faster, it can also drive in jobs.
Patricia Mitchell is with the NC Department of Commerce. She says, "If we want our economy to improve, if we want residents to move to our county and begin businesses and keep our businesses there we've got to keep up with the technology. There's no other choice."
Heading to the library for high-speed internet isn't an option for some either.
Susan Benning manages 8 libraries in Martin, Hyde and Beaufort Counties. She says they use DSL, which is a step behind broadband. She says only two of their libraries are wired for broadband and says it cost three times the amount to get it running.
So what can you do if you're waiting for high-speed internet?
NC Broadband is taking surveys to find out if you want or need broadband.
Those surveys just happen to be online, but, you can still go to your county commissioners or state representatives to voice your concerns.
You can also call 828-450-7933 with your questions.