North Carolina awards $9.8M in grants to boost rural Internet speeds

Published by WRAL TechWire on May 8, 2019

RALEIGH – North Carolina is looking to boost Internet speeds in 19 rural counties with nearly $10 million in matching grants.

The grants are to assist 14 companies improve broadband for some 10,000 households plus almost 600 businesses and community institutions.

Fourteen companies will receive the grants, 11 of them being based in North Carolina. According to the statement, the companies are a mix of small businesses, telephone cooperatives plus an electric membership cooperative.

North Carolina does have a big broadband access problem,

“The most current map of broadband availability in North Carolina shows that 93.7 percent of North Carolina households have access to broadband. This implies that most North Carolina households should be able to effortlessly connect to the internet and without too much waiting or delay: run a small business, stream video, complete homework assignments, communicate with friends and family and play video games,” wrote Jeffrey Sural, Director of the Broadband Infrastructure Office at the North Carolina Department of Information Technology, in a blog post for WRAL TechWire in Feb.

“But interactions with citizens from all parts of the state have led our office to believe this figure—93.7 percent—is wildly inaccurate.”

The grants are part of the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) . The matching grants went to “Internet service providers and electric membership cooperatives that compete for funding to lower financial barriers that prevent high speed internet service expansion in Tier 1 [identified as economically distressed] counties,” according to Gov. Roy Cooper and the NC Department of Information Technology as well as its Broadband Infrastructure Office.

Read the original article here

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