Federal grants to speed NC broadband growth; create new jobs


Gov. Bev Perdue and the U.S. Department of Commerce announced Wednesday that North Carolina has received $115 million in five federal recovery grants — money that will extend high-speed Internet service across much of the state, The Daily Advance reports. Some 69 counties statewide will benefit from the future broadband service.

“Increasing broadband access will create new jobs up front and provide a boost for local economies to create even more jobs and a better quality of life in the near future,” Perdue observed. “These improvements are especially important to rural and underserved areas of North Carolina.”

The grants are part of the second round of federal stimulus funding for broadband projects from the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Agriculture, Perdue said.

The high-speed broadband Internet network, which will stretchfrom the Albemarle in the northeast to southwestern North Carolina, will include 1,300 new miles of fiber optic cable and could create more than 1,000 engineering and construction jobs.

Perdue said the grant will benefit students as well.

“This investment provides North Carolina with a robust broadband infrastructure that will help deliver access to education, through (the North Carolina Research and Education Network) that is not defined geographically, but is equitable for every student at every level of education,” Perdue stated.

The governor also said the broadband infrastructure will help meet the health care needs of rural citizens and “levels the playing field in attracting high-paying jobs” to rural regions of the state.

The broadband network will cover more than 32,000 square miles, serve nearly 2.3 million households, 160,000 businesses and 4,000 institutions, representing about 67 percent of North Carolina’s population.

The funds announced Wednesday come from $7.2 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds approved by Congress to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved communities across the country.

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