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American Rescue Plan Funding Aims to Close Digital Divide in NC

Source: WRAL

North Carolina is expected to receive federal funding for increasing access to high-speed internet across the state. The investments come from the American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2021. 

On top of funding from President Biden’s infrastructure plan, the state will receive additional funding from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program (BEAD Program).

A five-year plan has already been drafted by state officials, which outlines expanding affordable high-speed internet access across the state, increasing digital literacy among all North Carolinians, and investing in areas with gaps in broadband access and digital equity.

“State and federal partnerships are critical to helping us close the digital divide and we are grateful to the Biden-Harris administration for this historic investment to expand high-speed Internet access in North Carolina,” Gov. Roy Cooper stated in a press release. “Through this program, we will continue to make tremendous progress in making sure every household and business in our state is connected.”

The N.C. Department of Information Technology estimates over 1.1 million households lack access to high-speed internet, can’t afford it, or do not have the skills to operate in the digital economy, Axios reports.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, more than 500,000 businesses and households across the state do not have access to high-speed internet or can only get slower speeds.

“Right now, we have a generational opportunity to invest in infrastructure across this country,” Gov. Cooper stated. “We’ve had plans before about things that we needed to do to connect every house and business to high-speed internet to fix our roads and bridges, expand our ports and airports. Now we actually have the funding to do it.

Read more at WRAL

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