In some areas, the availability of and the understanding of the value high-speed broadband brings is not the challenge. Instead, for some, the challenge is finding affordable service.
According to a 2019 State of Broadband In America report by BroadbandNow, 39% of North Carolinians have access to 25 megabytes per second (Mbps) download speed and 3 Mbps upload speed at $60 or less per month. The inability to afford internet service is one of the most common and pervasive barriers to broadband adoption.
However, a 2019 Oklahoma State University study found that only 20% of respondents said they were likely to purchase internet if it were $50 or more per month, while 74% indicated they would purchase it if it were $10 per month.
While affordability remains the most common barrier, many areas have discount offer programs to offer discounted or low-cost internet plans for qualifying low-income households*. They just are not well advertised or not advertised at all. As such, these programs are not widely used, leading internet service providers to be less likely to expand these programs.
Free Public Wi-Fi Access Locations
Many communities and vendors across North Carolina offer Wi-Fi access locations for public use. The Broadband Infrastructure Office maintains a list of public Wi-Fi access locations that have been reported to the office.
The Affordable Connectivity Program gives qualified low-income households a discount of $30 a month on internet services or up to $75 a month for broadband service on tribal lands. Qualified households may also receive $100 to buy a laptop, desktop or tablet through their internet provider (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50).