North Carolina lands $1.5B to expand high-speed internet access
North Carolina is set to receive $1.5 billion to boost high-speed broadband internet across rural swaths of the state.
Why it matters: Broadband internet has increasingly become a linchpin of the modern economy, as more business is done online and remote work opportunities explode.
- North Carolina has one of the country's largest rural populations. Many people live in small towns or counties with spotty internet access — especially in the northeastern part of the state and the mountainous far west.
By the numbers: The N.C. Department of Information Technology estimates that roughly 1.1 million households in the state lack access to high-speed internet, can't afford it or do not have the skills to operate in the digital economy.
- Around 500,000 businesses and households in the state cannot currently get high-speed internet or can only get slower speeds, according to data from the Federal Communications Commission.
What's next: States now have to submit proposals to the U.S. Department of Commerce for how they will use the funds. Once approved, the money will be doled out over multiple years.
- The state has already put together a five-year plan around expanding broadband, which includes using the new federal money to connect the highest-cost areas and provide fiber to schools, libraries and other important institutions in underserved communities.
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