Pender County gets state grant to expand internet service

Pender County was one of 69 counties to receive a state grant to expand Internet access. (Port City Daily/File)

PENDER COUNTY — The state announced Wednesday that more than $206 million in grants have been awarded to 69 counties for high-speed internet access, and Pender is one of them.

GREAT (Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology) funding has disbursed more than $260 million to internet service providers since July. The new funding round will impact nearly 85,000 households and more than 2,400 businesses in the state.

The Pender County ATMC, Focus Broadband, has received funding to expand its broadband infrastructure. Focus Broadband was one of 305 applicants, offered to serve more than 487,000 North Carolina homes and businesses. Applications were scored based on the number of households proposed to be served, the average cost to serve those locations, and the speeds offered.

“Broadband internet access is essential for people to work, learn, access telehealth and connect with each other,” Governor Roy Cooper said in a news release. “Thanks to this important GREAT grant, many more North Carolina families and small business owners will have the tools they need to succeed in today’s digital world.”

The GREAT Grant Program offers matching grants to Internet Service Providers and Electric Member Co-ops to extend high-speed Internet to unserved and underserved communities across the state.

According to the North Carolina Department of Information Technology, more than one million homes statewide either don’t have high-speed internet access, can’t afford it, or don’t have the skills. needed to take advantage of the digital economy. Governor Cooper released a billion dollar strategy to close the digital divide by investing US federal bailout funds in digital access and literacy.

Under the subsidy program, ISP applicants must participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides low-income households with a $30 monthly rebate on their service or a comparable low-cost program.

Internet service providers must also agree to provide high-speed service, defined as at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20 Mbps upload by December 31, 2026.

Over the past two months, NCDIT has awarded more than $54 million of the $350 million available in total funding, which included money for Spectrum Southeast, LLC in New Hanover County.


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