Categories
Broadband access Buncombe Digital Divide Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB)

$50 Internet Discount

What is the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB)?

The EBB program presents a unique opportunity to bring adults online at a discounted cost.

The WNC Broadband Project team wants to ensure the utilization of this important program for adults of all ages.

Get Help Paying for Low-Cost, High-Speed Internet

The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) is a government program to help households struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic.

EBB provides a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households.

North Carolina EBB Providers

Who are the NC EBB providers?

How Do I Qualify?

A household is eligible for EBB if one member of the household meets any of the following:

  • Qualifies for the Lifeline program, SNAP, or Medicaid
  • Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating providers’ existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

Note that the Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.

For more information, visit the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) website.

Application Process

Eligible households can enroll directly through participating broadband providers or with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

USAC is the company that administers the FCC’s Lifeline Program. People who are not currently in Lifeline must apply for the EBB Program through the National Lifeline Verifier, which is currently required to enroll in the FCC’s Lifeline benefit program.

Participants of the FCC’s Lifeline program do not need to apply for the EBB Program and must simply opt-in to a plan provided by a participating North Carolina internet service provider.

Digital Literacy Help

In Western North Carolina, the Digital Literacy Network is available to help the 60+ year-old Buncombe County resident by:

More About the EBB from OATS, the Older Adults Technology Services.

Categories
Broadband funding Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) FCC NC BIO Older adults

Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB)

Help spread the this information of funding for the broadband benefit for qualified individuals.

$50 per month for internet service is available

How can you spread information about EBB?

The FCC provides a toolkit to help you marketing with:

  • Offline Marketing
  • Social Media Postings
  • Pairing with other digital inclusion efforts in WNC
  • Public access Wi-Fi locations
  • Device lending locations

A Quick Introduction to EBB

AARP, the Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), and Aging Connected have this short YouTube video on ‘A Quick Introduction to EBB.’

Digital Literacy Network

The Digital Literacy Network of Buncombe County was initiated to help provide technology support for the 60+ year-old.

Join the community efforts today by:

Other Resources

WNC Broadband Blogs Posts on the EBB

How to apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit

Harnessing the Power of Technology to Change the Way We Age | OATS. (2021, May 20). OATS. https://oats.org/

Categories
Broadband access Broadband in WNC Digital Equity Digital Literacy GREAT Program Jeff Sural North Carolina

Nation’s First Office of Digital Equity and Literacy

Established by NC Governor Roy Cooper

Closing the digital divide in North Carolina can only happen with collaboration from:

  • Federal
  • State
  • Regional Councils of Governments
  • Counties
  • Cities
  • Communities

The WNC Broadband Project and the Digital Literacy Network are happy to hear this announcement from Governor Roy Cooper.

“The pandemic showed us more than ever the importance of digital equity in North Carolina,” said Gov. Cooper. “Creating the Office of Digital Equity and Literacy will enable us to accelerate the critical work of bringing all North Carolinians up to speed with the digital society so they can live more equitable, prosperous, educated and healthier lives.”

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper

NC Office of Digital Equity and Literacy

The office of Digital Equity and Literacy will execute Gov. Cooper’s plan to expand digital literacy offerings and partnerships across North Carolina, as well as lead the Digital Equity and Inclusion Collaborative and promote the NC Digital Inclusion Playbook for local municipalities.

Read More

Governor Cooper Establishes Nation’s First Office of Digital Equity and Literacy | NCDIT. Nc.gov. Published 2021. Accessed July 4, 2021. https://it.nc.gov/news/press-releases/2021/07/01/governor-cooper-establishes-nations-first-office-digital-equity-and-literacy

Categories
Broadband in WNC Fiber FIber Act GREAT Program Haywood County Local Government NC General Assembly Skyrunner

Broadband In Haywood County

The WNC Broadband Project is happy to see ~300 locations in Haywood on the list to get broadband thanks to Skyrunner and broadband advocates in Haywood County.

Article Highlights

  • Public-private partnership between Haywood County and local internet service provider Skyrunner will soon result in broadband service for more than 300 locations in some of the county’s most underserved areas.
  • Haywood County’s rugged mountain topography can sometimes be cost-prohibitive in terms of expanding internet service, wireless or not. The $1.7 million Skyrunner project will result in a fiber-only buildout on Haywood EMC poles in Crabtree, Fines Creek, on Rush Fork Road, ending near Lake Logan.
  • Skyrunner’s cost per location is a staggering $5,600, highlighting the financial challenges of providing reliable high-speed internet to everyone in the county, however, the gigabit-capable, “future-proof” fiber can carry the capacity to serve others, once it’s complete.

Article – Milestone moment for broadband in Haywood

Smoky Mountain News

Vaillancourt, C. (2021, June 23). Milestone moment for broadband in Haywood. Smokymountainnews.com; Smoky Mountain News. https://smokymountainnews.com/news/item/31624-milestone-moment-for-broadband-in-haywood

Categories
American Community Survey (ACS) Broadband funding Broadband in WNC Data FCC Form 477 Maps Measurement Lab (M-Lab) Microsoft Ookla Speed Test

New Broadband Map

Federal Maps on Broadband are still wrong & threaten Buncombe County funding

Buncombe County, NC – No broadband need???

Our broadband leadership team continues to advocate for quality broadband in Western North Carolina and we get excited when new ‘Indicators of Broadband Speed’ data becomes available to further assist in making objective decisions for our communities. However, we question the integrity of the data, including for Buncombe County, NC.

Indicators of Broadband Speed

The Indicators of Broadband Need map was created by the United States Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). 

The map uses several different data sources to show information on broadband availability within the United States. 

Layers in this map were created using data sourced from the American Community Survey collected by the U.S. Census, Measurement Lab (M-Lab), Ookla, Microsoft and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

A description of each data set is given in the map linked at the bottom of this blog as well as information on how to download the county, census tract and census block level data used in the map.

Comments from our WNC Broadband

  • New federal maps are an important small step in the right direction that point out the real extent of the problem.
  • New federal maps are still woefully inaccurate and show many areas as covered that are not because of the Swiss Cheese network with many small holes (see map below).
Buncombe Swiss Cheese Broadband
Buncombe Swiss Cheese Broadband Network
  • It will take years for the federal government to develop accurate maps given the mandate processes and the IT work involved
  • Therefore, the federal maps should not drive funding in the near term.
  • Near term funding must be driven at the local (county) and state level where local knowledge and feet on the street can determine where funding and build-out is critically needed.

Please contact a member of the WNC Broadband Leadership Team with any additional thoughts or comments.


New federal broadband maps show stark differences in access, affordability. Nbcnews.com. Published June 18, 2021. Accessed June 20, 2021. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/rcna1220

NTIA Creates First Interactive Map to Help Public See the Digital Divide Across the Country | National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Ntia.gov. Published 2021. Accessed June 20, 2021. https://www.ntia.gov/press-release/2021/ntia-creates-first-interactive-map-help-public-see-digital-divide-across-country

Categories
Broadband access Broadband funding House Bill North Carolina

$750M in NC broadband expansion Passed by House

The North Carolina House unanimously approved legislation on Wednesday that aims to spend $750 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to install high-speed internet in rural and remote areas lacking it.

Broadband Legislation

  • $350 million in discretionary American Rescue Plan funds earmarked for North Carolina to expand a relatively new state broadband installation matching funds program with internet providers and electric cooperatives.
  • $400 million in the funds from Congress on a new program that gives counties the ability to put out bids for broadband expansion in underserved areas. Federal aid going to counties also would pay for those projects.

The measure, which now goes to the Senate, meets goals of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper in his proposal last week to spend $1.2 billion of America Rescue Plan money on improving internet access.

“This is a huge step forward. The flexibility given the counties is a major step in helping fill in unserved parts of all parts of the state. It should help our WNC counties considerably.”

William Sederburg, Chair of the WNC Broadband Project
The G.R.E.A.T. Broadband Expansion Act

Here is the link to the language of the bill as reported by the committee. The WNC Broadband Project Team is not aware of any floor amendments as reported out of committee, not what we are aware of or not.

https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2021/Bills/House/PDF/H947v2.pdf


Also See

NC - Closing the Digital Divide
NC – Closing the Digital Divide

American Rescue Plan – Recommendation Investing $1.2 billion –
Closing the Digital Divide

$750M in virus aid for NC broadband expansion OK’d by House. (2021, May 26). AP NEWS; Associated Press. https://apnews.com/article/nc-state-wire-business-technology-health-coronavirus-pandemic-e757ca933053b92918480a039e53d44d

Categories
American Rescue Plan Digital Divide North Carolina

Closing the Digital Divide in NC

American Rescue Plan – Recommendation Investing $1.2 billion

Closing the Digital Divide

The recommendation invests $1.2 billion in broadband access and affordability to close the digital divide in North Carolina. While North Carolina’s economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the gap between residents enjoying economic growth and those struggling to secure jobs, find housing, and pursue educational resources is widening. The funds will provide access to affordable, high-speed internet in every corner of the state and will ensure high-speed internet is equitably adopted and residents are able to access education, healthcare, and business opportunities.

NC Governor Roy Cooper

NC Gov. Cooper: Governor Cooper Releases American Rescue Plan Investment Recommendations. (2021, May 19). Nc.gov. https://governor.nc.gov/news/governor-cooper-releases-american-rescue-plan-investment-recommendations

Broadband, education atop Gov. Cooper’s $5.7B virus aid proposals

Broadband, education atop Gov. Cooper’s $5.7B virus aid proposals – Asheville Citizen-Times. (2021). Newsmemory.com. https://ashevillecitizentimes-nc-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=286829201_1345d7d


‌Also See – Digital Divide WNC Broadband Blog Posts

Categories
Broadband access Broadband in WNC Education Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB)

A Broadband Benefit is Available

Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB)

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a temporary FCC program to help households struggling to afford internet service during the pandemic. The FCC is mobilizing people and organizations to help raise awareness about the Emergency Broadband Benefit. The materials below are available for public use. You can download and customize the materials to meet your needs, including by adding your logo to co-brand.

Eligible households can enroll through an approved provider or by visiting sort by GetEmergencyBroadband.org.

To learn more about the program or to become a partner visit www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit.

If you have questions about any of the materials below please contact broadbandbenefit@fcc.gov.

Categories
American Rescue Plan Broad River Broadband access Broadband Technology Buncombe Economic Development Education Employment Fiber Sandy Mush Telehealth Tim Love Wireless Wireline

Buncombe Broadband Expansion

Counties across North Carolina need flexibility to source funding and apply ‘middle-mile’ broadband infrastructure that could be used to lease to ‘last-mile’ providers. Buncombe County is in this category.

Buncombe County Broadband Update

  • What Buncombe County Knows –
    • Importance
    • Challenges
  • Key Activity Updates
    • Buncombe Broadband Workgroup
    • Buncombe Broadband RFP
    • Unserved Parcels in Buncombe County
  • Technologies
    • Mobile broadband
    • Fixed wireless
    • Satellite
    • Cable
    • Fiber
    • DSL
  • What’s next
  • Upcoming opportunities
  • Technology impacts

Buncombe flags Sandy Mush, Broad River for broadband expansion. (2021, May 5). Mountain Xpress. https://mountainx.com/news/buncombe-flags-sandy-mush-broad-river-for-broadband-expansion/

Also See

Imperative Internet – Terri Wells

Categories
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