The North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Office yesterday awarded $23.4 million in Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grants to expand broadband infrastructure in 12 counties, which will boost service for nearly 7,000 households and 374 businesses.
With the awards, North Carolina joins Arizona, Maryland, Wisconsin, and several other states that are releasing funds for broadband expansion. Some programs are funded, at least in part, through programs created in the ARPA and the CARES Act. More federal broadband money will flow to the states once the BEAD program gets underway.
Half of the 12 awards went to Charter Spectrum. The cable company has taken an aggressive approach to obtaining government funding for rural broadband expansion. In addition to its $1.2 billion take from the RDOF program, Charter is pursuing additional programs, including winning $50 million in Kentucky last month.
North Carolina received 305 applications for this $350 million round of GREAT grants. Grant requesters have to participate in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides or provide access to a comparable low-cost program.
Applications were scored based on the number of households and businesses they propose to serve, the average cost to serve those locations and the speeds offered.
Applicants had to agree to provide broadband speeds of a minimum 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload, scalable to symmetrical 100 Mbps on or before Dec. 31, 2026.
Awards were made to:
- Alexander County: Yadkin Valley TMC (Yadtel | Zirrus)
- Avery County: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
- Bertie County: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
- Chowan County: ATMC (Focus Broadband)
- Clay County: Blue Ridge Mountain EMC
- Cleveland County: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
- Davidson County: Yadkin Valley TMC (Yadtel | Zirrus)
- Gaston County: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
- Hyde County: Connect Holding II LLC (Brightspeed)
- Lincoln County: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
- New Hanover County: Spectrum Southeast, LLC
- Stanly County: Windstream North Carolina, LLC
“Reliable and affordable high-speed internet is a necessity for all North Carolinians to work, learn, connect and access online health care,” said NC Gov. Roy Cooper said in a prepared statement.
“These GREAT grants awards will help thousands more North Carolina families and businesses across the state access high-speed internet and the opportunities it brings.”