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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

Categories
ARC Broadband funding ERC Broadband Haywood County Skyrunner

Haywood County Broadband Expansion Efforts

The Education and Research Consortium of the Western Carolinas, Inc (“ERC”, also known as “ERC Broadband”) is proud to announce it has selected Skyrunner as the awardee of its Request for Proposal (“RFP”) to expand broadband in the Fines Creek and Crabtree communities in Haywood County. This award is pursuant to funding received by the Appalachian Regional Commission (“ARC”).

ERC Press Release, April 15, 2021

View the full PDF press-release with this link

View area on Google Maps

Thanks to the Southwestern Commission Regional Council of Governments, Region A; for sharing this emailed content.

Categories
Affordability Broadband in WNC Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB)

EBB

Emergency Broadband Benefit

During the pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is helping households struggling to pay for internet with the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program.

The FCC is also looking to mobilize organizations to help share important consumer information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit that will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands.

Additionally, eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute $10-$50 toward the purchase price.

Learn More

Emergency Broadband Benefit. (2021, February 11). Federal Communications Commission.

https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit


‌The Western North Carolina Broadband Project is advocating for all households in WNC to get high speed internet.

Please help the FCC and the WNCBP mobilize organizations to support sharing consumer information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

Categories
Broadband funding Buncombe

Investment Funding

Buncombe Broadband Infrastructure

Brownie Newman says the county is still working on figuring out logistics but expects to use the funds to invest in broadband infrastructure, homelessness issues, and public health.

WLOS

Young, T. (2021, March 17). Buncombe County to receive $51 million from COVID relief bill. WLOS; WLOS. https://wlos.com/news/local/buncombe-county-to-receive-51-million-from-covid-relief-bill

Categories
Affordability Broadband funding Digital Divide Federal Efforts Low-income Access

Affordable Internet for All

Emergency Broadband Benefit

In the coronavirus relief broadband bill ‘Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act’ individuals can receive a subsidy to help minimize the digital divide.

The bill offers a $50 monthly discount for broadband services and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a computer or tablet purchased through a participating provider (one discount per eligible household).


Learn More

Snider, M. (2021, March 11). Coronavirus relief measure could net you $50 toward your broadband bill, help erase the digital divide. USA TODAY; USA TODAY. https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2021/03/11/discount-broadband-internet-congress-tackles-digital-divide/6940680002/

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
Broadband in WNC Charter Communications Cherokee County Clay County FCC Graham County Haywood County Internet Service Provider Jackson County Kevin Corbin Macon County RDOF Space Exploration Technologies Starlink Swain County

Federal Dollars for WNC Broadband

Seven westernmost counties are receiving $45 million of the total $166 million coming to the state under the program.”

State Senator Kevin Corbin

In an announcement on his Facebook Page, he says of the total 155,000 customers in North Carolina that these projects will serve, 35,000 are in his seven counties.


Lacey, D. (2021, February 25). Federal dollars to fund broadband efforts from SpaceX, Charter in WNC. The Asheville Citizen Times; Asheville Citizen Times. https://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/2021/02/25/federal-dollars-fund-broadband-efforts-spacex-charter-wnc/4572907001/

https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/0b324cabf7b94d9ca34caa9361122d94/?fbclid=IwAR1_2u9eFNeqUNgNuLvPhBlAwiODR3Zy7YPMLvKHOhZKEVXGzv7KTsauxgc

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
Broadband access GREAT Program Transylvania

Increased Broadband in Transylvania County

‌Transylvania County in Western North Carolina will see increased broadband with their local internet service provider, Comporium. They won a $2.8 million grant for NC’s GREAT Program that will improve area economic development, education, and health systems.


Comporium Wins Broadband Grant to Expand Gigabit Service in N. Carolina – Telecompetitor. (2021, February 15). Telecompetitor.com. https://www.telecompetitor.com/comporium-wins-broadband-grant-to-expand-gigabit-service-in-n-carolina/


Also See

Categories
Broadband funding Broadband in WNC Economic Development FCC Kevin Jones RDOF Stagg Newman WLOS

About $45M in Federal Grants for Broadband Expansion in WNC

Our Western North Carolina Broadband Team Leader, Kevin Jones:

Looks like several WNC counties will be getting around $45M in RDOF funding.

Kevin Jones

Stagg Newman, Retired FCC Technologist and also a WNC Broadband Project Team Lead adds:

These grants help a bit. In Buncombe County, we have estimated that we have at least 15,000 Households without available future proof broadband service as defined in the Buncombe County RFP. These federal grants only address less than 1500 lines in Buncombe County, so less than 10% of the problem. I think the situation is similar in Henderson County and probably in other counties. So a small step in the right directions. The problem is most of the unserved areas do not qualify as totally unserved census blocks under the FCC Rural Development Opportunity Fund (RDOF). Congress mandated in 2019 that the FCC fix their mapping problem but only funded the FCC to do so in December of 2020. It will likely take the FCC at least two years to do so. The next $10 B of RDOF money will not be available until after the FCC fixes the maps.

Stagg Newman

In the WLOS video, Senator Kevin Corbin talks about the importance of broadband in Western North Carolina

WLOS – Sen. Kevin Corbin – (R) District 50

Dr. Shelley White, President of Haywood Community College also references in the WLOS video the broadband client-access benefits for their Small Business Center.

WLOS – Dr. Shelley White, President, Haywood Community College

Hodge, R. (2021, February 16). About $45 million in federal grants will help expand broadband in WNC. WLOS; WLOS. https://wlos.com/news/local/federal-grants-to-help-rural-counties-expand-broadband