The COVID-19 pandemic put a bright light on the existing economic and technological disparities felt by rural communities across North Carolina. Broadband connectivity is essential for a well-equipped workforce, thriving small businesses, a level playing field for student achievement, and access to healthcare providers regardless of one’s zip code. Every North Carolinian from the mountains to the coast, in rural and urban communities alike, must have affordable access to broadband. The pandemic underscores what our rural communities have always known: broadband is a necessity, not a luxury.
Policy Recommendations: Expand Accessible, Affordable High-Speed Broadband
…to connect the workforce, small business owners, students, healthcare providers, and residents of rural North Carolina with opportunities made possible by modern technology and innovation.
- Establish a revised broadband definition that creates a minimum service threshold of 100:20 Mbps to ensure equitable access to reliable, high-quality broadband in all areas of the state.
- Encourage public-private partnerships that clarify and enhance the ability of local governments to raise and spend funds for broadband infrastructure and lease existing assets to private and nonprofit partners to help expand broadband to the last mile.
- Leverage and coordinate federal and state funds to address broadband adoption and affordability rates, and fund technology access programs to ensure equitable access to service for low-to-moderate income households.
- Convene regional stakeholders, partners, and broadband service providers to effectuate universal last-mile broadband accessibility and adoption goals in unserved and underserved areas of the state.
- Support viable infrastructure technologies, such as fiber and fixed wireless, to increase access to reliable high speed broadband services and efforts to accurately map broadband accessibility and adoption across the state to best identify needs in underserved and unserved areas.
- Support the state’s goal to equitably close the digital divide through increased access to high-speed internet and subscriptions and increased adoption rates for every household by 2025.