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BAND-NC - Building a New Digital Economy Broadband funding GREAT Program


What North Carolina funding is available for broadband?

Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) Grant

The Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) Grant: The GREAT Grant provides grants to private providers of broadband services to deploy broadband service to unserved areas of the state.

Building a New Digital Economy (BAND-NC) Grants

Building a New Digital Economy (BAND-NC) Grant: The BAND-NC Grants are mini-grants to fund local digital inclusion projects to meet unmet community needs in North Carolina.

State Broadband Plan

Connecting North Carolina State Broadband Plan

North Carolina is within the top 20 for best broadband connected states.

BroadbandNow states, “3.1% of North Carolinians have access to fiber-optic internet service.

But most 120,000 North Carolinians have no wired connection and over 800,000 persons have access to only one internet provider.

The State has been working on solving these issues, with the State’s House of Representatives voting in May “to pass a $750 million broadband expansion measure…to close “broadband gaps” in less developed, rural areas of the state”.

Surveys taken by NC State’s Friday Institute found that “at least 450,000 households, or roughly 10 percent of the state lacks adequate broadband coverage” most seriously within the Blue Ridge Mountains.

North Carolina Broadband Office. Broadband. Money. Published 2021. Accessed February 16, 2022.

Broadband funding Broadband in WNC Dogwood Trust Grant Money GREAT Program NC BIO NCDIT WESTNGN

WNC Broadband ‘Update Table’

Five years ago, advocates convened to prepare a request for negotiations and the WestNGN entity was formed. In 2019 the WNC Broadband Project in conjunction with the University of North Carolina at Asheville was incepted.

Flash forward to 2022, a Western North Carolina ‘Update Table’ is shared with the community below.

  • WNC Broadband Project Chair: Dr. William Sederburg
  • Dogwood Health Trust VP of Impact – Economic Opportunity: Sarah Thompson
  • Sara Nichols, Regional Planner at Land-of-Sky Regional Council
  • N.C. Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) guests:
    • Angie Baily, Director of the Broadband Infrastructure Office within the Division of Broadband and Digital Equity
    • George Collier, NCLM Economic and Community Development Specialist
    • Ben Shelton, Project Manager at North Carolina Center for Geographic Information and Analysis
  • and more…
Land of Sky WestNGN Broadband Q&A with NC Department of Information Technology

Help us advocate for reliable and fast internet in Western North Carolina.

Broadband in WNC GREAT Program NC BIO Rural

Application Window Open for $350M to Expand Internet Access in Rural NC

$350M GREAT Grant Round Opened

Gov. Roy Cooper announced on January 31st that applications for the latest round of GREAT Grants can be submitted through April 4 for up to $350 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act funding.

  • Awards can be made within eligible economically-distressed counties in areas unserved with broadband at speeds of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.
  • Project deployments must provide minimum speeds of 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload, scalable to 100 Mbps symmetrical.
  • The program encourages partnerships with counties, nonprofits or other internet service providers.
  • Grants require matching investments from private broadband provider grantees, leveraging funding to deploy infrastructure to N.C. households, businesses and farms in the most rural and remote areas of the state.

Qualified internet service providers and electric membership cooperatives providing internet service can now apply for up to $350 million in grants to expand broadband infrastructure in North Carolina and get more people connected to high-speed internet. Funds from the federal American Rescue Plan are being used to provide the largest ever round of Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) Grants available in North Carolina.

“High-speed internet is critical for North Carolinians to be able to work, learn, run a business or access healthcare,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “We want all communities in our state to have these opportunities and this round of grants is an important step toward closing the digital divide, especially in rural areas.”

The grants are part of Governor Cooper’s plan to give 95% of North Carolina households access to broadband of 100/20 Mbps by expanding access and addressing issues of affordability and digital literacy.

Applications for the spring 2022 award period will be accepted through April 4. An information session for applicants will be held Feb. 10. Additional details can be found at

Administered by the N.C. Department of Information Technology’s (NCDIT) Division of Broadband and Digital Equity, the GREAT Grant program provides matching grants to broadband providers and electric membership cooperatives that compete for funding to expand access to high-speed internet service to unserved areas of all counties across the state.

“Since the GREAT Grant program launched in 2018, the state has invested nearly $56 million matched by more than $35 million from private investors to connect more than 40,000 households and businesses to broadband,” said NCDIT Secretary and State Chief Information Officer James Weaver. “We look forward to expanding those partnerships to extend high-speed internet access to more households in unserved areas.”

For more information about the NCDIT Division of Broadband and Digital Equity and the GREAT Grant program, please visit

Application Window Open for $350M to Expand Internet Access in Rural N.C. | Published 2022. Accessed February 6, 2022.

Advocacy GREAT Program Sandy Mush

High Speed Internet for the First Time

The North Carolina Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grant program funds the terrestrial deployment of broadband within unserved areas across the state.

The grants are available to private broadband service providers and are designed to connect these areas with broadband as quickly as possible.

It is thanks to the many local advocates including Buncombe County and the Land of Sky Regional Council of Governments; with a special shoutout to Sara Nichols, Regional Planner.

This state grant helps connect many in rural NC areas to high speed internet for first time, including the Sandy Mush area of northwestern Buncombe County.

Please contact a member of the WNC Broadband Project Team if you believe your WNC community needs high-speed internet.

Penter, Caitlyn. 2021. “State Grant Helps Connect Many in Rural NC Area to High Speed Internet for First Time.” WLOS. WLOS. November 24, 2021.

“ArcGIS Dashboards.” 2021. 2021.

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. Published 2021. Accessed July 4, 2021.

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.; Smoky Mountain News.

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).

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