The positive effects of broadband access availability have been identified repeatedly over the past years. High adoption rates and good services lead to increase in economic prosperity, better healthcare services, increased safety and improved education. The continued evolution of education methods which assign more and more homework dependent on Internet access and the COVID-19 pandemic which lead to a shift towards online work wherever possible, underlined the fact that broadband access is no longer a nice to have but rather a must have service.
Most states across the nation recognize the importance of broadband to their growth and prosperity so they launched major initiatives to increase broadband availability, broadband adoption and broadband quality of service. The approaches to attaining broadband targets vary from state to state however, they all provide valuable insights and ideas on how to address this issue (see the list of state initiatives below).
The state of North Carolina began investing in broadband initiatives, particularly rural communities, back in 2017 however it made significant commitments in May 2019 by providing $10mil to 14 companies to bring broadband access to 19 Tier 1 counties. Later the same year, Governor Roy Cooper signed into law the rural broadband mini-budget (H387), providing the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program $15mil/year for 10 years.
The value of broadband access is recognized at federal level as well. NC Broadband, the agency coordinating the broadband efforts in the state, has been awarded $6.6mil in federal grants for broadband development while $121mil (3.5% of all federal infrastructure grants) was awarded to various individual broadband infrastructure projects across the state (BROADBANDUSA).
North Carolina is 18th in the Nation on Broadband Access
NC Broadband identified five barriers to broadband adoption:
- Unavailability of broadband
- Cost or affordability of service
- Costs of a computer, laptop or other devices
- Digital literacy or lack thereof
- The internet’s perceived relevancy in a person’s daily life
Communities of all sizes can launch initiatives to address these barriers through public-private partnerships and state-federal funding.
Resources to Plan Your Local Initiative
Broadband adoption in your county
Detailed data on various aspects of broadband adoption in each county
Regional economic and social data
Do you need help developing a plan for your community?
Guide on planning the development of broadband for your community
Help us better understand the quality of broadband services in your area