The COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for high speed internet is even more critical as students and educators move to online learning and more doctors appointments done with Telehealth appointments. Thankfully our Republican-led General Assembly has already made significant investments in expanding access to Broadband internet. In this legislative session, the General Assembly passed:
- House Bill 387 Growing G.R.E.A.T. Act, – This legislation will invest $150 million over the next 10 years to increase high speed internet access across the state and reduce financial barriers that prevent broadband internet expansion. The bill also removes regulatory restrictions so electric cooperatives can work together to better serve rural areas and receive federal broadband expansion funds.
- Senate Bill 212 Capital Appropriations/R&R/DIT/Cybersecurity – Makes sure broadband expansion funds aren’t affected by budgetary shortfalls.
- Senate Bill 704 – COVID-19 Recovery Act, ensures that schools are prepared for online-only instruction and provides that classrooms have the necessary funding to move their curriculum and operations to a virtual environment.
Rep. Chris Humphrey, a co-sponsor of the Growing G.R.E.A.T. Act, says, “The COVID-19 pandemic has made our needs for broadband internet in rural areas even more clear. Students need a good internet connection in their homes to stay on track in their school work and be present in online classrooms.”
North Carolina is already seeing the benefits from legislation passed by the Republican-led NCGA. Just last year, the G.R.E.A.T. Act helped provide broadband internet access for 9520 households and 580 businesses across 18 counties.