The Digital Divide
Achieving Digital Equity
Too many North Carolinians lack access to an internet connection, cannot afford an internet subscription or do not have an adequate device. Many also lack the skills to take advantage of digital services like telehealth, online education or online job boards.
Gov. Roy Cooper's plan aims to close the digital divide by addressing:
- Infrastructure and access
- Digital literacy
The nearly $1 billion in federal American Rescue Plan funds (and $30 million in state funds) invested in this plan must be spent by the end of 2026:
|$971 million||To rapidly build crucial infrastructure in unserved areas to give internet speeds of 100/20 Mbps to households (with the ability to handle future speeds of 100/100 Mbps)|
|$50 million||To create awareness and support digital literacy and skills training to participate in the digital economy|
An additional $15 million would cover administrative and operational costs to supplement existing state administrative capacity to support high-speed internet efforts. The plan also will require significant private sector investment.
By 2025, North Carolina can become a national leader, ranking in the top 5 states for high-speed internet adoption. As North Carolinians in every corner of the state can get, afford and use high-speed internet, they can take advantage of job, education and health opportunities. That can drive the state's economy.
This vision is possible by achieving three goals:
- Raising the percentage of North Carolina households with high-speed internet subscriptions from 73% to 80%.
- Raising the percentage of North Carolina households with children with high-speed internet subscriptions from 81% to 100%.
- Increasing adoption rates to 80% across racial subgroups:
- Native American (currently 57%)
- Black: (currently 64%)
- Latinx: (currently 68%)
- White: (currently 76%)
Infrastructure is a major challenge, affecting both rural and urban areas in North Carolina.
By investing $971 million, North Carolina can rapidly build crucial infrastructure in unserved areas to give internet speeds of 100/20 Mbps to households (with the ability to handle future speeds of 100/100 Mbps).
American Rescue Plan and state funding would be allocated as described below.
GREAT Grant Program
|Pole Replacement Program||$100 million|
|Broadband Mapping||$1 million|
Completing Access to Broadband Program
Stop Gap Solutions
Affordability is a barrier to low-income households. The FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program, enacted as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, provides nearly $14 billion in funding to provide eligible, low-income households a monthly discount on internet service.
The Affordable Connectivity Program provides:
- A $30 per month benefit to help households afford access to high-speed internet service.
- Up to a $75 per month discount if the household is on qualifying Tribal lands.
- A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50).
More than 625,000 North Carolina households have already enrolled, and we are encouraging all residents who qualify to apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program at acpbenefit.org.
Having broadband access does not mean being able to use it.
By investing $50 million, the state can improve awareness and enable more North Carolinians to utilize the benefits of high-speed internet through programs aimed at accessing the digital economy (e.g., education, job seeking, telehealth).
Funding would be allocated as described below.
Awareness and Digital Literacy
|$50 million||$12.5 million||$37.5 million|