Recently, Governor McCrory announced the release of the Connecting North Carolina State Broadband Plan. The State Broadband Plan, developed by the Broadband Infrastructure Office within the Department of Information Technology, is a guiding document intended to inform policy makers as they create, implement and impact policies on the deployment, adoption and use of broadband infrastructure to enhance economic development, education, public safety and government efficiency.

Here are some quick takeaways and recommendations from the plan that state and local leaders should embrace to expand access and increase adoption of broadband infrastructure across North Carolina:

  • Incentivize investment in next generation, future-proof infrastructure and reduce barriers to deployment
    • Create “Dig Once” and “One Touch” policies to reduce the number of times the rights-of-way are disrupted and allow the ROW owners to better manage encroachments and reduce permitting costs
    • Leverage grant programs to support community-based incentives for providers and, where necessary, community-based infrastructure investment
    • Leverage ongoing research and development of next generation technologies to reach non-adopters and unserved households
    • Provide ongoing technical assistance through the Broadband Infrastructure Office
  • Create community-based adoption & utilization programs and initiatives
    • Educate low-income households and their community leaders on affordable broadband subsidies and programs
    • State Librarian/BIO should continue to lead effort to ensure high-speed, next generation connectivity to all NC Libraries
    • Foster creation of digital literacy tools by and for local communities
  • Close the ‘homework gap’ for K-12 students without broadband access at home
    • Advocate for leveraging schools’ digital infrastructure for use by the community as a whole
    • Leverage K-12 education system to reach children and their parents
    • Encourage creation and/or expansion of tech-based curriculum in K-12 schools
    • Expand device delivery to low-income households, especially those with K-12 students
    • Provide low-cost mobile service solutions
  • Facilitate integration of broadband into economic development strategies
    • Include broadband as an indicator in the “Certified Work Ready Community” program
    • Facilitate a state-supported campaign to brand the state (internally and externally) as a digital leader
    • Leverage existing state agency workforce development tools
    • Encourage counties to include broadband in their economic development plans
  • Recognize and leverage the influence telehealth technologies have on household broadband adoption and use
    • Improve education and marketing for federal “Health Care Connect Fund” (HCF)
    • Create best practices for health care providers
    • Require broadband be built into new health care facilities
    • Providers to market low-cost options for broadband at their homes
    • Implement remote monitoring pilots
    • Provide medical reimbursements for broadband service
  • Continue to pursue a statewide, inter-operable data network and the Next Generation 911 initiative to enhance public safety and first responder connectivity

Additionally, two key factors for bridging the digital divide emerged from developing the plan:

  • Proactive and engaged communities, especially in areas where market-factors, like competition, will not drive innovation or affordability, and
  • Their strong partnerships with private sector internet service providers.

Click here if you would like to read the Connecting North Carolina State Broadband Plan