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Advocacy Broadband access Broadband funding Broadband in WNC Digital Inclusion Digital Literacy House Bill Municipalities NC General Assembly Senate Bill

2021 Broadband State Legislation

North Carolina Broadband 2021 Legislation

HB 79
Passed House 2/24/21

Requires the state board of education to maintain a digital learning dashboard updated annually by public school units and requires recommendations to the joint legislative education oversight committee based on information on student digital learning access during COVID-19.

Education and Schools and Rural and Underserved

HB 196
Signed by governor 3/11/21, Chapter 3
SB 172

Makes modifications to COVID-19 relief legislation and provides additional appropriations for the expenditure of federal COVID-19 pandemic relief funds., includes student connectivity funds for complimentary internet service.

Education and Schools, Funding and Rural and Underserved

HB 289
Passed House 4/1/21

Appropriates funds to the department of information technology for the preparation of statewide broadband maps and establishes the department as the sole source of broadband mapping for state agencies.

Funding and Mapping

HB 384

Fosters infrastructure for broadband expansion and resources in North Carolina by authorizing counties and cities to install and lease broadband infrastructure to increase adequate broadband services to attract investment in local economies, provide for educational and career opportunities, modernize farming technologies, and to provide for improved health care.

Infrastructure

HB 476

Enacts the North Carolina Broadband Consumer Protection Act to provide oversight of broadband service by the North Carolina utilities commission.

Consumer Relations and Governance

SB 517

Appropriates funds to the department of information technology for the preparation of statewide broadband maps and to establish the department as the sole source of broadband mapping for state agencies; relieves regulatory burdens to expedite broadband expansion; allows for use of existing easements for broadband expansion; expands distribution of state surplus computers and computer hardware for nonprofits; allows local government leasing of existing broadband infrastructure; expands funding for G.R.E.A.T. program broadband grants; and provides stopgap internet access for classroom access, health care access, and job creation.

Education and Schools, Funding, Infrastructure, Mapping and Rural and Underserved

SB 523

Establishes the North Carolina broadband assistance program to provide funds to eligible low-income families to help make broadband access more affordable.

Rural and Underserved

SB 547

Fosters infrastructure for broadband expansion and resources in North Carolina by authorizing counties and cities to build and lease facilities and equipment of broadband services to increase adequate broadband services in rural areas of the state where the need for broadband is great due to many factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Municipal and Rural and Underserved

SB 642

Appropriates funds to the technology and data institute to operate a pilot program to expand high-speed internet access to students of low-income families in central North Carolina.

Funding, High Speed and Rural and Underserved

SB 689

Facilitates the expansion of broadband service in unserved areas of the state by ensuring timely and nondiscriminatory access to municipal and electric membership cooperative utility poles, ducts, and conduits at just and reasonable rates; authorizes counties to provide grants to high-speed internet access service providers and to build facilities and equipment of a broadband service and to levy taxes for those purposes; further defines the term “city utility pole”; prohibits certain fees for the collocation of small wireless facilities; and makes related changes.

Funding, High Speed, Infrastructure, Rural and Underserved and Taxes


Broadband 2021 Legislation. (2021). Ncsl.org. https://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/broadband-2021-legislation.aspx

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Advocacy Broadband access Broadband in WNC Digital Inclusion Economic Development Education FCC William Sederburg

Broadband Future in WNC

by Dr. William Sederburg

Western North Carolina Broadband Project Chair Dr. William Sederburg talks about broadband and the situation of broadband maps from the FCC and the actual situation of broadband service as detailed in his letter to the FCC.

WNC Broadband Future – Dr. Sederburg

YouTube Video Outline

00:00 – Organized through University of North Carolina Asheville
01:36 – Former FCC Officials Stagg Newman & Greg Voyt in WNC
02:21 – FCC Presentation
03:00 – WNC Broadband Project’s start
04:42 – ‘Future Proof’ Broadband
06:11 – ‘Lack of broadband infrastructure is NOT just a rural problem’
07:19 – Buncombe County Map – No Services offered in red, white areas do not have adequate broadband
08:21 – Conclusion, Federal policy changes, WNC short-changed services, WNCBP offer to help FCC with maps (see the letter below)

Because broadband is a critical need for economic growth, education, tele-health, and more; the WNC Broadband Project is here to advocate for broadband improvements for our communities.

Categories
Advocacy Broadband access Broadband as a Utility Broadband in WNC Community Development Digital Divide Digital Equity Economic Development

Bridging A Digital Divide

High speed internet should be available to everybody in Western North Carolina.

It is critical to economic opportunity, job creation, education, telehealth, and civic engagement.

Broadband Call-To-Action

Your call-to-action should be:

  1. Advocate for the timeless investment of fiber to replace copper and cable. It is likely the power company owns your neighborhood telephone poles and a right-of way is needed.
  2. Steward the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program to your network. A Federal Subsidy of up to $50 per month is available. Additionally, a one time $100 per household for hardware.
  3. Provide the NC Broadband Office with information about the lack of dependable broadband at your location or a friend or neighbor.

Bridging The Digital Divide For All Americans. Federal Communications Commission. https://www.fcc.gov/about-fcc/fcc-initiatives/bridging-digital-divide-all-americans

Categories
Advocacy Broadband in WNC Dogwood Trust Economic Development Infrastructure Workforce Development

Strategic Priority

Broadband Connectivity

A strategic area for the Dogwood Health Trust is Economic Opportunity:

Bolstering the infrastructure for a growing economy through investments in broadband connectivity and workforce development.

Dogwood Health Trust Strategic Priority

Strategic Priorities – Dogwood Health Trust. (2021, March 30)

Dogwood Health Trust.

https://dogwoodhealthtrust.org/strategic-priorities/


‌The WNC Broadband Project Leadership team supports DHT in wanting to “help create a WNC where every generation can live, learn, earn and thrive, with dignity and opportunity for all.”

Categories
Advocacy Broadband access Broadband funding Digital Divide NC BIO

Slow or No Internet?

We Need To Know About Poor Broadband Service

The NC Broadband Survey is designed to gather information on locations without adequate internet access and speeds in our community.

  • For homes and businesses WITHOUT internet service, text 919-750-0553 (standard text messaging rates will apply)

Your feedback directly impacts grant and infrastructure funding in your community.

Categories
Affordability Broadband access Digital Inclusion Fiber Local Government Low-income Access Sandy Mush Terri Wells Wireless

Imperative Internet

Fiber Broadband At the Sandy Mush Community Center

Terri Wells talks about how fiber broadband provides tools to minimize a #digitaldivide at the Sandy Mush Community Center.

Fiber and broadband connectivity are imperative for digital inclusion in our communities.

Bringing high-speed, free internet to the Sandy Mush Community Center has been a life-changer.

Terri Wells

A community center is hub that can provide assistance for education, telehealth, employment, entertainment, and more.

More About SMCC WiFi, Internet

Sandy Mush Community Center Website > WiFi Connection

Fiber Optics – the Timeless Investment

Support the Western North Carolina Broadband Project.

Our WNCBP Advisory Team, including Terri Wells; are advocating for the timeless investment of fiber optics in our communities.

Categories
Advocacy Broadband access Broadband funding Broadband in WNC Broadband Technology Dan Gerlach Education Federal Efforts Greg Vogt Jeff McDaris Jeff Sural Local Government Local Government North Carolina Paul de Sa Stagg Newman Walter Johnson

WNC Broadband Leadership Summit

March 2, 2021

Meet the Experts, Get Broadband Industry Updates, and Closing The Digital Divide in 2021


You’ve been asking questions- we’re paying attention. 2021 will bring a host of changes to policy, funding, technology, and more.

Join us on March 2nd for our annual broadband leadership summit as we hear from local, state, and national leaders on what those changes will bring.

We will be hearing from:

Paul de Sa- “Perspectives on the new FCC directions and Internet Policy and Funding in the Biden Administration”

Paul was part of the leadership team at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 2009-12 and 2016-17, serving as Chief of its Office of Strategic Planning, with a focus on merger reviews, spectrum policy, and broadband, including work on the National Broadband Plan. He is now a senior partner with Quadra Partners consulting and a member of President Biden’s Broadband Transition Team.

Walter Johnston- “Broadband Technology in 2021”

Walter was Chief of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Division of the FCC from 2009 to Jan. 2019. He is now a senior partner with Danu consulting. He is a leading expert in new broadband technologies.

Dan Gerlach- “Foundations and funding questions”

Dan has served the public for 25 years as a budget advisor to Gov. Easley, President of the Golden Leaf Foundation, and interim Chancellor of East Carolina University. He currently is president of Dan Garlach LLC and a consultant to the Dogwood Health Trust.

Jeff Sural- “What to expect at the state level”

Jeff earned his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill and his J.D. from Western Michigan University. Since January 2015 he has been the Director of the Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO). BIO leads the statewide initiative to expand high-speed internet access for all North Carolinians.

There will also be information from several providers in the region including Charter, Skyrunner, ERC, and French Broad Electric Co-op.

And more……

This event will be held from 10-noon with optional breakout sessions from noon-1pm.

Breakout Sessions

  • Education – led by Jeff McDaris – will hear what K-12 and colleges have done to meet the pandemic and respond to the digital divide. Barry Pace of Buncombe Schools will provide an update on their experience.
  • New Technologies – led by Stagg Newman and Walter Johnston will continue the conversation about 5G expansion, satellite services, and the future.
  • State & Local Funding for Broadband – led by Jeff Sural and foundation partners – will look at the potential for state and local funding for broadband.
  • Federal Policy Changes – Greg Vogt and Paul de Sa will continue the conversation about what the Biden administration and Democratic control of Congress means for broadband improvements and regulations.

Register for this virtual event today! Spaces are limited.

Date: March 2nd
Presentations: 10-12
Breakout sessions: 12-1
Cost: Free

Zoom Registration Link

For questions related to this event reach out to


Does your organization have a digital inclusion activity it offers?

We want to know!

2020 escalated the conversation around digital inclusion and we want to make sure we know what’s going on across WNC. Please let us know who you are and what your organization is doing by completing this brief survey. We will present an update to this project at the March 2nd Summit. 

Digital Inclusion Survey Link

Categories
Advocacy Affordability Broadband access North Carolina

Mediocre Broadband in NC

Who do you call when you don’t have adequate broadband; if you even have access to broadband in North Carolina? NC Department of Information Technology Department of Broadband Infrastructure has accumulated 40, 000 survey results so far and it can be summarized as ‘sorry.’

State of (Sorry) Broadband in NC

How can we summarize these survey results?

Mediocre, an adjective describing of only moderate quality; not very good quality… a State of ‘sorry’ broadband in North Carolina

Take Action

Read more in the article linked below and encourage your community, friends, neighbors, and business to continue providing data necessary for the State of North Carolina to take action!

Respond to the NC BIO Survey

The NC Broadband Infrastructure Office survey can be taken either:

The survey is available in both English and Spanish.


Early North Carolina broadband survey data shows mediocre access – Carolina Journal. (2021). Carolina Journal. https://www.carolinajournal.com/news-article/early-north-carolina-broadband-survey-data-shows-mediocre-access/

Categories
Advocacy Broadband in WNC Grant Money Local Government

Faster WNC Internet

How To Get There

How can Western North Carolina get fast internet?

Although the FCC currently defines broadband as 25Mbs down and 3Mbs up; this is not future-proof because of the growing appetite for internet consumption and contributions. Many communities struggle with DSL, satellite, or cellular connections that experience poor speed and/or latency issues.

Creative and diverse broadband implementation solutions will be needed for WNC!

Broadband Growth for WNC

The Raleigh News Observer article linked below has 2 suggestions to expand broadband in North Carolina:

  1. Local Government Infrastructure Leasing – so that private providers can use fiber lines and power poles to expand service areas.
  2. Grant Money for Rural Broadband – NC currently bases eligibility for grants on data from Census tracts

Support the WNC Broadband Project today.

We advocate for broadband growth that will ultimately provide economic growth, education, and well-being for our beautiful WNC communities.


Campbell, C. (2021). Faster internet is a top priority for the legislature. But how can NC get there? Raleigh News & Observer; Raleigh News & Observer. https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article248704020.html

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Advocacy Broadband funding Digital Inclusion Economic Development Lamar Owen PARI Transylvania

Broadband as a Rural Utility

REA Brought Electricity to Rural America

The availability of power can be taken for granted. As Lamar Owen, Chief Technology Officer at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) relates to the Rural Electrification Act (REA).

The Rural Electrification Act of 1936, enacted on May 20, 1936, provided federal loans for the installation of electrical distribution systems to serve isolated rural areas of the United States.

The funding was channeled through cooperative electric power companies, hundreds of which still exist today.[1] These member-owned cooperatives purchased power on a wholesale basis and distributed it using their own network of transmission and distribution lines. The Rural Electrification Act was also an attempt made by FDR’s New Deal to deal with high unemployment.

Wikipedia

Rural Broadband Implementation Act

Shouldn’t broadband also become something similar to REA?

A Rural Broadband Implementation Act?

Lamar Owen discusses the topic and how it relates to rural and mountainous Transylvania County, NC in the video below.

Broadband as a Utility in Rural America

Broadband at PARI Series

PARI Website

https://www.pari.edu/