Dunn is one of 10 towns in the running for a $3 million technology makeover in T-Mobile’s “Hometown Techover” initiative, expanding the mobile company’s 5G reach and small-town internet access. Thousands of applicants were narrowed down to a list of 10. Dunn is the only town in the southeast. But how exactly will the winner be decided?
“A panel of judges from T-Mobile and Smart Growth America will determine a winner based on project feasibility, the town’s need for a network upgrade, and town leadership interest and engagement,” according to a T-Mobile release. “Later this summer, one of the 10 finalist towns will be crowned the T-Mobile Hometown Techover winner...”
And this news was music to our ears.
Harnett County struggles with high-speed internet access — a plight made perfectly clear in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many students fell behind in education when they were forced into virtual learning without access to a high-speed network.
T-Mobile looked at numerous aspects of a community such as network coverage and population before selecting Dunn as a finalist. Assistant County Manager Mathew Boone discovered the promotion and put the city’s name into a nationwide hat.
But whether Dunn gets the top prize or not, all of the finalist towns get $50,000 to help jumpstart or complete projects in their communities. Although the internet issue will likely cost more to fix, $50,000 is a great start in a city that struggles with infrastructure issues, education pitfalls and poverty.
“We are so excited to be a part of this,” Dunn Mayor William Elmore said. “It would be great for Dunn. We have a lot of folks in our area who don’t have internet access and this would help provide some of that, which would in turn help our school systems and build better access here in town. It is a great opportunity for us. What T-Mobile is willing to put into our community is unbelievable.”
“I think the WiFi, the connection and all that is the main thing that we got questions about during the pandemic from parents who have children home from school,” said Kaitlin Adkins, city of Dunn communications coordinator. “It kind of brought it to our attention how much we needed it in our area and that’s what this is for, to bring it to areas of our community who may not receive as high speed of internet as others. We know Dunn is a great place to live, work and play but for a company like T-Mobile to come in and hopefully upgrade our 5G, especially during the pandemic and students in schools, is a great thing.”
And — fingers crossed: The grand-prize winning town will score a mass of tech goods and services for its community. The champion wins:
A $200,000 T-Mobile grant and consulting servcies from Smart Growth America, a nonprofit aimed at fostering “safe, equitable and sustainable community growth;”
5G network enhancements and a tech upgrade to a public space like a library, community center or town square;
A Little League baseball field refurbishment that includes a tech upgrade and grant support;
Access to T-Mobile resources;
And, a free concert featuring multi-platinum duo Florida Georgia Line.
The winner will become the 5G model for communities across the U.S., according to T-Mobile — putting us on the map with the network needed to show us off.
So think happy thoughts and say a few prayers. Dunn needs this.