BOLTON – Columbus County, located just west of Wilmington, will receive faster Internet connectivity through a $7.9 million federal grant for the installation of high-speed fiber-optic access.

Announced Wednesday, the US Department of Agriculture will provide funding to Atlantic Telephone Membership Corporation for its Faster Columbus Advanced Connectivity for Communities, Education, Safety and Support (ACCESS).

The project is designed to provide broadband access to more than 4,000 households as well as 18 businesses, 22 farms, three healthcare facilities and 15 education facilities, according to the announcement made by North Carolina Rural Development State Director Robert Hosford.

The project is part of the USDA ReConnect Pilot Program.

“We know that rural communities need access to reliable broadband,” Hosford said in a statement. “This infrastructure will provide residents, farms, businesses, first responders and schools in Columbus County access to all the opportunities that e-Connectivity offers.”

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