REC, Northampton to be commended for move toward rural internet

Published 12:44 pm Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Northampton County Board of Commissioners agreed this week to draft a letter of support for an effort by Roanoke Electric Cooperative as the cooperative works to provide high speed Internet access to rural customers.

Both the commissioners and the cooperative are to be commended for that effort. We’ve gotten to the point that if you do not have that access, you are handicapped.

It has not been too awfully long ago that there was no Internet…

That’s kind of hard to comprehend today, when so many of us use it to do everything from buy airplane tickets to sell “stuff” we no longer want or need.

Once upon a time, completion of many homework assignments required access to a set of encyclopedias. If your family didn’t own a set, you had to go to the library and make a lot of notes.

Today, kids go “online” and “Google” a subject and a computer instantly gives them access to more reference material than any library, let alone any set of encyclopedias could possibly have ever provided.

Moreover, that information is going to be fresh. The encyclopedias used by previous generations frequently were 15 or 20 years old and had survived two or three older siblings.

If there’s not a bookstore near you, using the Internet, you can go to a site like and order just about any title ever printed. What you order will be routinely delivered within two days, or you can pay extra and get it tomorrow.

Remember when every house used to have a Sears Roebuck catalog two or three inches thick? is today’s version of that, I guess.

All of that has shortcomings, of course.

Some of us still like to actually hold a book and thumb through it before we buy it. (Actually, Amazon provides an electronic way to “thumb through” its offerings, but it’s just not the same.)

I haven’t visited with anybody yet who could tell me the specifics of the service to be provided in Northampton County. I’m technologically challenged, so I probably won’t understand even after I have.

But in other parts of the the country I’m told that Internet service is provided wirelessly to whole communities.

The bottom line is that Northampton County and the Roanoke Electric Cooperative are being proactive on a topic that will be very important to many people, perhaps in ways that cannot even be envisioned yet.

David Sullens is president of Roanoke-Chowan Publications LLC and publisher of the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald and the Gates County Index.