NCDIT Closing the Digital Divide

Broadband & Digital Equity Division Crosses State to Hear About Local Needs

The biggest community issues reported by nearly 400 participants were infrastructure for homes and businesses, cost of internet service available and digital literacy and upskilling.

The N.C. Department of Information Technology’s Division of Broadband and Digital Equity hosted a virtual update on June 8 to share what it learned during an eight-city statewide listening tour to ensure that the state’s plans to address high-speed internet access, devices and digital training are inclusive of all local communities’ needs.

The community issues reported by nearly 400 participants were:

  • Infrastructure for homes and businesses (24.1%)
  • Cost of internet service available (22.4%)
  • Digital literacy and upskilling (14.3%)
  • Training and workforce development (8.3%)
  • Remote learning and telehealth services (7.3%)
  • Availability of internet capable devices (6.4%)
  • Digital navigators to help residents (5.6%)
  • Internet for multi-family residential buildings (4.1%)
  • Internet access at community institutions (3.8%)
  • Cybersecurity education (3.6%)

The division is executing Governor Roy Cooper’s plan to provide all North Carolinians with access to affordable, high-speed internet and the devices and skills necessary to participate in the modern digital economy. The public feedback will inform the five-year plans that the state is developing with planning funds of $1.4 million for the Digital Equity program and $5 million for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.

The BEAD plan will be open for public comment in June, followed by the Digital Equity plan in September. Additional BEAD and Digital Equity funding will be announced by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in late June.

The Closing the Divide listening tour, which began in April, met with residents, businesses and local leaders in Fayetteville, Rocky Mount, Jacksonville, Kernersville, Morganton, Cherokee, Elizabeth City and Wingate.

NCDIT also hosted the daylong Closing the Digital Divide: Internet for All forum in Raleigh on May 23, with the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, N.C. League of Municipalities and National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The forum brought together critical stakeholders from federal, state, tribal and local governments, industry representatives and other key collaborators to discuss broadband and digital equity efforts as the state prepares to receive significant broadband funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.