$23 million in grants awarded to expand NC Internet access in 12 counties; $5 million in WNC

Nearly 7,000 homes and 374 businesses in 12 North Carolina counties are expected to receive high-speed Internet access thanks to more than $23.4 million in grants, Governor Roy Cooper announced today. The North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) Office of Broadband Infrastructure has awarded Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grants to expand broadband infrastructure in counties following:

  • Alexander County: Yadkin Valley TMC (Yadtel | Zirrus)
  • Avery County: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
  • Bertie County: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
  • Chowan County: ATMC (Focus Broadband)
  • Clay County: Blue Ridge Mountain EMC
  • Cleveland County: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
  • Davidson County: Yadkin Valley TMC (Yadtel | Zirrus)
  • Gaston County: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
  • Hyde County: Connect Holding II LLC (Brightspeed)
  • Lincoln County: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
  • New Hanover County: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
  • Stanly County: Windstream North Carolina, LLC

“Reliable and affordable high-speed Internet is a necessity for all North Carolina residents to work, learn, connect and access health care online,” Governor Cooper said. “These GREAT grants will help thousands more North Carolina families and businesses across the state gain access to high-speed internet and the opportunities it provides.”

The grants are part of Governor Cooper’s plan to invest nearly $2 billion in federal and state funds to close the digital divide in North Carolina. The GREAT Program offers matching grants to Internet Service Providers and Electric Member Co-operatives who partner with individual North Carolina counties to compete for funding to extend high-speed Internet service to unserved areas of State.

“These awards signify the state’s commitment to partner with Internet service providers and counties to ensure North Carolina homes and businesses can participate in the digital economy,” said the NCDIT Secretary. and State Chief Information Officer, James Weaver. “We are making BIG grants on an ongoing basis throughout July and August to expedite the distribution of all of these essential funds.”

Senator Kevin Corbin noted that there was still money in the fund for providers to apply to expand and improve the internet in rural areas.

“We just appropriated over $900 million strictly for rural internet connections,” Senator Corbin said. “As of today, over 50% of the money is still on the table for demand. This must be done by the suppliers. In each case where an application has been submitted, I have written a letter of support and the grants are being funded as planned.

Senator Corbin noted that specifically for Clay County, his office wrote a letter of support to Blue Ridge Mountain EMC for the $5 million grant they will receive to connect 2,000 customers in very rural areas of the county. of Clay.

“They will all be hooked up in less than 24 months,” said Senator Corbin. “Applications are approved weekly and I do my best to get the grants out west. So far, we’ve gotten more than our fair share and are continuing to do so because companies keep applying. It’s the process. You need to contact your county commissioners and your local supplier to push them to request the money that is literally on the table.

NCDIT received 305 applications for this round of $350 million GREAT grants, and Internet service providers submitted project proposals that would serve more than 487,000 NC homes and businesses. To be eligible for a subsidy, all internet service provider applicants must participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides eligible low-income households with a $30 per month discount on high-speed internet service, or provide access to comparable low-speed Internet service. cost program. Learn more about CPA and how to get reliable $30 per month high-speed internet plans offered by internet service providers at getinternet.gov.

Applications are scored based on the number of households and businesses they propose to serve, the average cost to serve those locations, and the speeds offered. Applicants must agree to provide broadband service, defined as a minimum of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20 Mbps upload, scalable to 100 Mbps upload and 100 Mbps upload by December 31 2026. All awards are conditional. on the final grant agreements executed with these broadband partners.

For more information on NCDIT’s Broadband and Digital Equity Division, please visit https://www.ncbroadband.gov/.

Quick Facts About the NC GREAT Grant Program

  • GREAT stands for -Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology
  • NC launched the GREAT grant program in 2018
  • Qualified Internet service providers and electrical member cooperatives providing Internet services are eligible to apply
  • The grants are part of Governor Cooper’s plan to give 95% of North Carolina households access to 100/20 Mbps broadband by expanding access and addressing affordability and digital literacy issues.
  • The NC GREAT Grant program is administered by the NC Department of Broadband and Digital Equality Information Technology Division.
  • The GREAT Grant Program offers matching grants to broadband providers and member electric cooperatives competing for funding to expand access to high-speed Internet service to unserved areas in every county in the state.
  • Since the launch of the GREAT Grant program in 2018, the state has invested nearly $56 million, supplemented by more than $35 million from private investors, to connect more than 40,000 homes and businesses to broadband.
  • Prices are based on data submitted by broadband providers. Specifically, in 2019, round one reward locations were based on Census Block or Polygon Area submissions; in 2020, Round 2 award locations were based on parcel area or polygon submissions; and finally, in late 2020 and early 2021, round three reward locations were based on addresses or plot area submissions.
  • Grants help bring high-speed Internet to thousands of North Carolina businesses and farms in the most rural and remote areas of the state. These areas include both Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties as well as rural census tracts located in Tier 3 development areas that are currently served by less than 25 megabytes per second download and 3 megabytes per second download. download speed.
  • The first round of GREAT Grants were awarded in 2019. For WNC, the following counties were awarded GREAT Grants based on the private vendors requesting the funds: Cherokee – CND, Clay-Blue Ridge EMC, Graham- Zito Media, Graham- Skywave, Macon-Morris Broadband, Swain-Skywave (2), Jackson-Sky-Fi, Transylvania-Citizens Telephone and Buncombe-French Broad EMC.

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