Governor proposes $1.2 billion to expand internet access across N.C.

A new proposal by NC Governor Roy Cooper seeks to address the problem of poor internet access that exists across the state, particularly in rural areas such as Craven County. The broadband divide has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which showed that many North Carolinians lack the access, financial means, devices or skills needed to fully participate in today’s digital society.

The governor’s proposal would invest $1.2 billion in federal American Rescue Plan funds over the next four years in three key areas:

  • Infrastructure and access: $600 million to rapidly build crucial infrastructure in unserved areas to give internet speeds of 100/20 Mbps (megabits per second) to 98% of households and 50/10 Mbps to 100% of households, with the ability to handle future speeds of 100/100 Mbps.
  • Accessibility: $420 million to promote and continue federal programs for affordable internet such as the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (which gives low-income households a discount on internet services), and continue subscription support once federal funding ends.
  • Digital literacy: $165 million to provide devices, training and tools to connect to the digital economy, with a goal of giving 365,000 households the devices, repair support and digital literacy and skills training to participate in the digital economy.

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