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Carolina West Wireless

Wilkesboro, NC

Products: Communications services

Size of Operation: 80,000 subscribers

In Business Since: 1991

Farm Credit Partner: CoBank

Working with Farm Credit Since: 2013

In rural America, only 60 percent of households have broadband Internet service – 10 percent less than those in urban areas. But companies like Carolina West Wireless are helping to close the “digital divide” by delivering broadband to rural residents via mobile devices.

Based in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, the company serves customers in 10 counties in the western part of the state. It is jointly owned by three cooperative communications service providers: Skyline Telephone Membership Corporation, Surry Telephone Membership Corporation and Wilkes Telephone Membership Corporation.

“Our customers like doing business with a local company,” said Slayton Stewart, Carolina West Wireless chief executive officer. “At the same time, they expect us to deliver the latest technology and an outstanding experience.”

Currently, Carolina West Wireless is increasing the number of cell sites on its network by 50 percent and upgrading its network to 4G, or “fourth generation,” technology.

“We recognized that as long as we needed debt to ensure our 4G build, it would be better to go with one institution,” Stewart said. “We chose CoBank because of its understanding of small rural community businesses, experience in the regional wireless space, and its reputation in the industry.”

“Regional wireless providers like Carolina West Wireless are succeeding by delivering a superior level of service to their customers in a hugely competitive industry,” said Rob West, CoBank senior vice president and manager of the bank’s Communications Banking Division. “Our mission is to support them with reliable access to financing so they can continue to thrive and achieve their business goals.”

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