Internet service providers interested in the new GREAT Grant Program can now apply for funding through an online portal, the state’s Broadband Infrastructure Office announced today.
The $10 million GREAT Grant Program is the state’s first public grant program designed to expand broadband access in North Carolina. The program was established by the legislature after Governor Cooper included a similar initiative in his last two budget proposals. It allows internet service providers and electric membership cooperatives to compete for funding to help improve broadband service in the state’s 40 Tier One counties.
“To succeed in today’s classrooms and workforce, access to high-speed internet is not optional. GREAT Grants will help increase broadband connectivity in rural North Carolina, creating good new jobs and expanding opportunity for families and employers across our state,” said Governor Cooper.
The GREAT Grant Program was established by Session Law 2018-5. Eligible areas are census blocks or portions of census blocks in Tier One counties that lack access to a service providing a minimum of 10 Megabits per second download and 1 Megabit per second upload speeds. The state classifies the 40 most economically distressed counties in the state as Tier One counties.
“The program, the first of its kind in the state, provides the missing piece to bring internet connectivity to those without service,” said Jeff Sural, director of the North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Office. “Our team at the Broadband Infrastructure Office looks forward to seeing creative proposals that will help bridge the digital divide.”