More High-Speed Internet Coming to Rural NC

Raleigh

 Governor Roy Cooper announced high-speed internet will expand in in Columbus County thanks to a federal grant announced today a $7.9 million ReConnect Pilot Program grant. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded an Atlantic Telephone Membership Corporation (ATMC) investment to connect more than 4,000 households, businesses, educational and critical community facilities over an approximately 150-square-mile area of rural Columbus County.

This is the second ReConnect award North Carolina has received this year. In November, Star Communications was awarded $23.7 million to invest in high-speed broadband infrastructure in rural Sampson County.

“High-speed internet shouldn’t be a luxury, but a necessity, and the digital divide creates real challenges in communities across North Carolina,” said Governor Cooper. “This funding will help connect more rural communities to help grow businesses, attract good jobs and deliver better quality health care.”

ATMC will use the grant to bring fiber-optic broadband to more than 4,057 households, 18 businesses, 22 farms, 15 educational facilities, three health care facilities and 10 critical community facilities through its Faster Columbus Advanced Connectivity for Communities, Education, Safety and Support, or ACCESS, project.

“Communities across the state still lack broadband speeds that are critical to doing homework, applying for a job, or seeing a doctor without leaving home and rural parts of the state are the most dramatically affected by this digital divide,” said Eric Boyette, state chief information officer and secretary of the N.C. Department of Information Technology. “

To increase internet access across North Carolina, Gov. Cooper earlier this year, established theGovernor’s Task Force on Connecting North Carolina. In May, he also announced nearly $10 million in state funds to expand broadband infrastructure in rural North Carolina through the Growing Rural Economies through Access to Technologies (GREAT) Grant. ATMC was awarded about $1 million through this program for its FOCUS Fiber Optic Network project in Columbus County. 

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