Grants will allow greater access to broadband and high-speed internet in 12 North Carolina counties
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Nearly 7,000 households and 374 businesses in 12 North Carolina counties are set to receive high-speed internet thanks to more than $23.4 million in grants, Governor Roy Cooper announced this week.
The N.C. Department of Information Technology’s (NCDIT) Broadband Infrastructure Office has awarded Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grants to expand broadband infrastructure in the following counties:
- Alexander: Yadkin Valley TMC (Yadtel | Zirrus)
- Avery: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
- Bertie: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
- Chowan: ATMC (Focus Broadband)
- Clay: Blue Ridge Mountain EMC
- Cleveland: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
- Davidson: Yadkin Valley TMC (Yadtel | Zirrus)
- Gaston: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
- Hyde: Connect Holding II LLC (Brightspeed)
- Lincoln: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
- New Hanover: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
- Stanly: Windstream North Carolina, LLC
“Reliable and affordable high-speed internet is a necessity for all North Carolinians to work, learn, connect and access online health care,” Governor Cooper said. “These GREAT grants awards will help thousands more North Carolina families and businesses across the state access high-speed internet and the opportunities it brings.”
Asking folks at the Fast Stop in New London in rural Stanly County about their internet service gets a mixed bag of answers.
“We have Windstream,” said Heidi Dennis. “It’s pretty good, it’s fast.”
“There are problems, but for the most part, I mean all of us are on the internet, so it gets very lacking,” said Tanya McGready.
“I personally have had issues with broadband, not here in town, but I live in the county and it’s hard to get a good internet connection, speed, service, that kind of thing,” said Dr. James Link.
That’s why Stanly and 11 other counties are in line for this grant money. To be eligible, applicants must enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides eligible low-income households a $30 per month discount on high-speed internet service or provide access to a comparable low-cost program.
“Anytime you get faster broadband, quicker, broadband, better coverage, that’s great,” Dr. Link added.
On the campus of Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, internet access is not a problem, but when some of the students are off campus, it’s difficult to get their work done.
“Students around campus that might be commuters, they’ll have a harder time getting access to that high-speed internet, so I think those students being able to come to a place and have that, they’re able to get all of their work done and all of their resources are met for them,” said Abbi Vail, an admissions counselor at Pfeiffer.
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 provides matching grants to internet service providers and electric membership cooperatives that partner with individual N.C. counties to compete for funding to expand high-speed internet service to unserved areas of the state.
“These awards signify the state’s commitment to partnering with internet service providers and counties to ensure North Carolina homes and businesses can participate in the digital economy,” said NCDIT Secretary and State Chief Information Officer James Weaver. “We are awarding GREAT grants on a rolling basis throughout July and August to expedite the distribution of all these critical funds.”
NCDIT received 305 applications for this $350 million round of GREAT grants, and internet service providers submitted proposals for projects that would serve more than 487,000 N.C. homes and businesses.
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 high-speed service, defined as a minimum of 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20 Mbps upload, scalable to 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload on or before Dec. 31, 2026. All awards are contingent on final executed grant agreements with these broadband provider partners.
Learn more about the ACP and how to get $30 per month reliable, high-speed internet packages offered by internet service providers at getinternet.gov.
For more information about the NCDIT Division of Broadband and Digital Equity, visit ncbroadband.gov.
The Governor’s press office contributed to this story.
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