Robert Reives: The importance of broadband in ARP

BY Rep. Robert Reives, Dist. 54
Posted 6/2/21

To the Editor:

Gov. Roy Cooper outlined his spending priorities for the American Rescue Plan (ARP) money coming to North Carolina, specifying how he thinks the billions of dollars would best be …

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Robert Reives: The importance of broadband in ARP

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Many rural parts of Chatham have very slow broadband speed. It's a problem that extends across the state, where hundreds of thousands of people don't have access to high-speed internet.
Many rural parts of Chatham have very slow broadband speed. It's a problem that extends across the state, where hundreds of thousands of people don't have access to high-speed internet.
Staff photo by Kim Hawks
Posted

To the Editor:

Gov. Roy Cooper outlined his spending priorities for the American Rescue Plan (ARP) money coming to North Carolina, specifying how he thinks the billions of dollars would best be used. His largest single expenditure would be what he calls Closing the Digital Divide: $1.2B in broadband access and affordability.

Currently, North Carolina is home to hundreds of thousands of people who do not have access to high-speed internet. That leaves a lot on the table: without access to quality internet, businesses and education suffer. With the move to remote instruction over much of the past year, parents and educators saw how far rural areas like Chatham can be regarding broadband access.

But now help is here. In Gov. Cooper’s proposed spending plan for the ARP funds, $1.2 billion will go toward ensuring high-speed internet is equitably adopted across our state. This historic investment in broadband would bring our rural communities up to speed, literally. Gov. Cooper has set a goal of having high-speed internet in 100% of households with children.

The recommendation doesn’t just provide for the infrastructure needed to expand broadband — it includes ample funding for affordability, too. $420 million would go toward lowering cost barriers to internet access. It’s not enough to build out the capability if people can’t afford the service.

All told, broadband is just one piece of the American Rescue Plan funding coming to North Carolina. We can build back even better than before the pandemic if we make the right investments. Broadband access is a great place to start.

Rep. Robert Reives
Goldston

Rep. Reives represents District 54 (all of Chatham County and a portion of Durham County) in the N.C. House.

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