North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has announced $206 million in grant funding that will help expand internet access to 69 different counties in North Carolina.

The grants come from the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grants that aim at helping grow the interconnectivity of different underserved communities in the state.

“High-speed internet access is critical for people to work, learn, access telehealth, and connect with one another,” said Governor Cooper. “Thanks to this significant GREAT grant award funding, many more North Carolina families and small business owners will have the tools they need to succeed in today’s digital world.”

The grant program matches grants to internet service providers as well as electric membership cooperatives that may partner with individual counties in underserved areas in the state. To be eligible for these grants internet service providers must be participating members of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

“We are excited to be awarding this unprecedented amount of funding to bring high-speed internet access to such a large number of residents and businesses across the state,” said NCDIT Secretary and State Chief Information Officer Jim Weaver. “These funds will go a long way in closing the digital divide by bringing equitable access to both rural and urban communities.”

These grants will ultimately help serve over 85,000 households and 2,400 different businesses in the state which will meet the required minimum of 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20 Mbps upload speeds, according to the N.C. Department of Information Technology.

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