1. How does the state of North Carolina address the issue of high internet costs for low-income families?
The state of North Carolina addresses the issue of high internet costs for low-income families through various initiatives and programs. These include:
1. North Carolina Department of Information Technology’s (NCDIT) Broadband Infrastructure Office: The NCDIT’s Broadband Infrastructure Office is responsible for expanding affordable broadband access to underserved communities, including low-income families. Through this office, the state provides grants and loans to internet service providers to help them expand their coverage to rural and low-income areas.
2. Low-Income Assistance Program: The state’s Low-Income Assistance Program (LIEAP) helps eligible low-income households pay for their internet service. This program is administered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and provides financial assistance to qualifying households based on income, household size, and energy expenses.
3. ConnectHome Initiative: This public-private partnership aims to bridge the digital divide in low-income housing communities across North Carolina. ConnectHome works with local stakeholders to ensure residents have access to affordable high-speed internet, devices, and digital literacy training.
4. Digital Inclusion Resources Directory: NCDIT’s Broadband Infrastructure Office also maintains a Digital Inclusion Resource Directory that lists low-cost internet service providers in specific areas of the state.
5. Lifeline Assistance Program: The Lifeline Assistance Program is a federal program that offers discounted phone service plans and broadband internet access for eligible low-income families in North Carolina.
Additionally, some cities in North Carolina have implemented their own initiatives to address the issue of high internet costs for low-income families, such as Charlotte’s Digital Charlotte project that aims to provide affordable internet options and digital skills training for residents.
Overall, the state of North Carolina recognizes the importance of affordable internet access for all its residents and continues to work towards bridging the digital divide through various efforts and partnerships.
2. What government programs are available in North Carolina to ensure affordable internet access for underserved communities?
There are several government programs in North Carolina that aim to ensure affordable internet access for underserved communities. These include:
1. North Carolina SPARC Initiative (Statewide Program for Addressing the Digital Divide)
SPARC is a state-funded initiative that provides grants to local governments, nonprofits, and private businesses to support infrastructure and expand broadband access in underserved areas of North Carolina.
2. Lifeline Assistance Program
Lifeline is a federal program that provides discounted phone and internet services for low-income individuals and families. Eligible households can receive a discount of up to $9.25 per month on their bill.
3. E-rate Program
The E-rate program, also known as the Schools and Libraries Program, provides discounted telecommunications services, internet access, and networking equipment to eligible schools and libraries.
ConnectHome is a national initiative led by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that works with public housing authorities to provide low-cost or free broadband internet access to families living in HUD-assisted homes.
5. Connect America Fund (CAF)
The CAF is a federal program that distributes funds to telecommunications companies to provide high-speed internet access in rural areas.
6. Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)
The CRA encourages banks to invest in low-income communities by providing loans or grants for community development projects, including infrastructure for broadband connectivity.
7. Digital Inclusion Fellowship Programs
These programs, such as the Digital Inclusion Fellowship offered by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, provide support for outreach and digital literacy training programs in underserved communities.
In addition to these specific programs, there are also efforts at the state level to promote policies that support affordable internet access for all North Carolinians. For example, the NC Broadband Infrastructure Office works with service providers, local governments, and community organizations to identify barriers to broadband adoption and develop solutions for improving access throughout the state.
3. In what ways is the government of North Carolina working to bridge the digital divide and promote internet affordability for all residents?
1. Expanding Broadband Infrastructure: The state government is working to expand broadband infrastructure by partnering with private companies and investing in rural areas where access to high-speed internet is limited.
2. Providing Grants for Broadband Access: The state provides grants to internet service providers to help them cover the cost of providing broadband access in underserved communities.
3. Digital Inclusion Initiatives: North Carolina has several digital inclusion initiatives, such as the NC Digital Equity Center, which works to increase digital literacy and access to technology in underserved communities.
4. Low-Income Internet Subsidy: The state offers a low-income internet subsidy program through the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program, which provides discounted internet service for eligible households.
5. Affordable Internet Plans for Schools and Libraries: The North Carolina Department of Information Technology’s E-Rate program helps schools and libraries acquire affordable internet plans, making it easier for students and residents to access the internet.
6. Supporting Local Initiatives: The state provides technical assistance and resources to local governments and community organizations working on digital inclusion efforts, such as developing public Wi-Fi networks or providing affordable computer equipment.
7. Promoting Digital Literacy Programs: North Carolina also supports digital literacy programs aimed at teaching residents how to use computers, smartphones, and the internet effectively, particularly in underserved areas.
8. Advocating for Net Neutrality: In 2018, North Carolina’s governor signed an executive order directing the state government to “support net neutrality principles in the provision of broadband.”
9. Partnership with Non-Profit Organizations: Partnerships with non-profit organizations like Connected Nation are helping improve digital inclusion in North Carolina by mapping broadband accessibility and identifying areas where improvements need to be made.
10. State Broadband Planning Efforts: The state has developed a comprehensive broadband plan that includes recommendations for policy changes that can improve internet affordability for all residents.
4. What incentives or initiatives has North Carolina implemented to encourage ISPs to offer more affordable internet plans?
There are several initiatives and incentives that North Carolina has implemented to encourage ISPs to offer more affordable internet plans:
1. Broadband Infrastructure Office: The Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO) in North Carolina was created with the goal of expanding high-speed internet access. They work with state and local leaders to develop solutions for increasing broadband access and affordability.
2. Digital Inclusion Fellowship Program: This program provides funding for projects focused on digital literacy and digital inclusion. By improving digital skills, individuals are better equipped to make use of the internet, including finding more affordable plans.
3. Broadband Ready Communities: North Carolina has a certification program known as “Broadband Ready Communities” which recognizes localities that have taken steps to reduce barriers to broadband infrastructure investment.
4. End User Assistance Grants: Through the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (G.R.E.A.T.) project, NC offers grants for assisting low-income residents with purchasing equipment like computers and routers in order to connect them to affordable broadband services.
5. E-NC Authority Fund: The E-NC Authority Fund provides matching grants for new or expanded service that brings affordable internet connectivity options into underserved areas.
6. Partnership with ISPs: North Carolina works closely with ISPs through various partnerships to develop cost-effective strategies for increasing internet accessibility statewide by leveraging existing infrastructure and resources.
7. Tax incentives: In some cases, North Carolina offers tax incentives for companies investing in large-scale infrastructure development, which can include initiatives related to providing more affordable internet options.
8. Broadband Expansion Act: In 2020, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the NC FIBER/Broadband Expansion Act which aims to facilitate greater cooperation between private companies and governmental agencies in supporting infrastructure development across the state, thereby also promoting greater affordability of service offerings.
5. Is there a specific agency or department in North Carolina responsible for overseeing internet affordability programs?
The North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) is responsible for overseeing internet affordability programs in the state.
6. How does North Carolina measure and track progress towards achieving widespread, affordable internet access for its residents?
North Carolina measures and tracks progress towards achieving widespread, affordable internet access for its residents through several methods.
1. Broadband Mapping: The North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NC DIT) is responsible for developing and maintaining a comprehensive statewide broadband map. This map provides accurate and up-to-date information on the availability of broadband infrastructure by geographic area.
2. Speed Test Initiative: NC DIT has partnered with Measurement Lab to develop an online speed test tool that allows residents to test their internet speeds and submit results to the state for data collection. This helps identify areas with slow or no internet access, and informs planning and investment decisions.
3. Digital Inclusion Summit: The annual North Carolina Digital Inclusion Summit brings together stakeholders from government, non-profits, academia, and private sector to discuss strategies for improving digital inclusion in the state. This event serves as a platform for sharing progress towards achieving universal broadband access.
4. Broadband Task Force: The North Carolina Broadband Connectivity Task Force was established in 2018 to advise the Governor on ways to promote widespread connectivity across the state. The task force regularly reviews data regarding broadband coverage and affordability in the state and makes recommendations for improvement.
5. Program Evaluation Reports: The NC General Assembly requires regular reports on the effectiveness of programs aimed at promoting affordable internet access statewide. These evaluation reports provide insights into progress made towards achieving affordable internet access goals.
6. Initiatives Promoting Affordable Internet Access: Various programs have been launched at both state and federal levels to promote affordable internet access in North Carolina, such as the E-Connectivity Pilot Program by USDA Rural Development. Data on coverage, usage, and costs of these initiatives are also collected to measure their impact.
Overall, North Carolina employs a multi-faceted approach to track progress towards achieving widespread, affordable internet access for its residents. By regularly monitoring data from various sources and analyzing it through different lenses, the state can make informed decisions and investments to bridge the digital divide.
7. Are there any partnerships between government and private companies in North Carolina aimed at lowering the cost of internet service?
Yes, there are several partnerships between government and private companies in North Carolina aimed at lowering the cost of internet service. One example is the “NC Broadband Infrastructure Office,” a state agency that works with broadband providers, local governments, and community groups to expand high-speed internet access across North Carolina. This office has partnered with private companies like Google Fiber and AT&T to provide low-cost internet options for underserved communities in the state.
Another partnership is the “Connecting NC” program, which is a public-private partnership aiming to connect affordable high-speed broadband to all areas of North Carolina by leveraging private sector investments and innovations.
Additionally, the North Carolina Department of Information Technology has partnered with private internet service providers to offer discounted or low-cost broadband plans for low-income families through programs such as “Internet Essentials” from Comcast and “Access from AT&T.” These partnerships aim to bridge the digital divide and make high-speed internet more accessible for low-income households.
Furthermore, some municipalities in North Carolina have also partnered with local internet service providers to build out their own municipal broadband networks. These partnerships allow for reduced costs for residents while also bringing reliable high-speed internet access to areas that may not otherwise have it.
8. Does North Carolina provide subsidies or discounts for low-income households struggling with high internet costs?
Yes, North Carolina offers subsidies and discounts for low-income households struggling with high internet costs through its Low Income Assistance Plan (LIAP). LIAP is a state-funded program that provides a monthly credit towards the cost of internet service to eligible households. The amount of the credit varies depending on the type of internet service chosen and the income level of the household. Eligibility for LIAP is determined based on income guidelines set by the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
9. Are there any state-level regulations or policies in place to prevent ISPs from charging exorbitant prices for internet services in North Carolina?
Yes, there are state-level regulations and policies in place to prevent ISPs from charging exorbitant prices for internet services in North Carolina. These include:
1. North Carolina’s “Fiber Act”: In 2016, the state passed the “Fiber Act” which prohibits local governments from restricting competition in broadband services by private providers. This encourages competition and can help keep prices in check.
2. Net Neutrality: In 2018, North Carolina signed an executive order that requires all ISPs that do business with the state government to follow net neutrality principles, which prevent unfair pricing practices.
3. State Utility Commission Oversight: The North Carolina Utilities Commission has jurisdiction over telecommunications companies and can regulate their rates and services to ensure fair pricing.
4. Consumer Protection Laws: The state has consumer protection laws that give consumers the right to file complaints against ISPs for deceptive or unfair practices related to pricing.
5. Rural Broadband Access Program: In 2019, North Carolina created a program to expand broadband access in rural areas of the state, which can help lower prices by increasing competition among ISPs.
Overall, while there are some measures in place to prevent exorbitant prices for internet services in North Carolina, ongoing efforts at both the federal and state levels are needed to ensure fair competition and affordable prices for consumers.
10. Can students from low-income families in North Carolina access discounted or free high-speed internet through government programs?
Yes, there are government programs available to help low-income families in North Carolina access discounted or free high-speed internet. One such program is the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Lifeline Assistance Program, which provides a discount on monthly phone or internet bills for eligible low-income households. Additionally, the North Carolina Department of Information Technology offers the NC Broadband Infrastructure Office’s Low Income Grant Program, which helps fund broadband infrastructure projects in underserved areas and offers discounted or free internet service for qualifying households.
11. How does North Carolina’s approach to promoting internet affordability differ from that of other states?
North Carolina has a multifaceted approach to promoting internet affordability that sets it apart from other states:
1. Establishing a State Broadband Infrastructure Office: North Carolina is one of the few states that has a dedicated office within its Department of Information Technology focused solely on broadband infrastructure. This office aims to bridge the digital divide by expanding high-speed internet access across the state, particularly in unserved and underserved areas.
2. Investing in Broadband Infrastructure: The North Carolina General Assembly has allocated significant funds towards improving broadband infrastructure, with an additional $9 million proposed for 2020-2021. This funding supports projects ranging from building new fiber optic networks to upgrading existing infrastructure.
3. Promoting Public-Private Partnerships: North Carolina has encouraged partnerships between the public and private sectors to expand broadband access. The state passed a law allowing electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) to provide communications services, including broadband, in underserved areas.
4. Encouraging Competition: The state has implemented policies to promote competition among internet service providers (ISPs), such as giving tax incentives to companies that offer high-speed internet services in underserved areas.
5. Providing Digital Inclusion Programs: North Carolina also has programs aimed at helping low-income families afford internet access, such as the Low-Income Household Access Program and ConnectHomeNC program.
6. Supporting Telehealth Expansion: Recognizing the importance of reliable internet access for telehealth services, North Carolina has invested in initiatives like the eHealth Broadband Mapping Project to identify areas with poor connectivity and prioritize resources towards addressing those areas.
Overall, North Carolina’s approach involves a combination of infrastructure investment, partnership-building, policy incentives, and targeted programs to promote internet affordability and accessibility for all residents.
12. Has the government ofNorth Carolina launched any innovative initiatives to make high-speed broadband more affordable and accessible for all residents? Yes, the North Carolina Department of Information Technology has launched several initiatives to increase access and affordability of high-speed broadband for all residents. These include:
1. Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) Program: This initiative provides grant funding to local governments, businesses, and nonprofits to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved or underserved areas.
2. NC DIT Broadband Infrastructure Office: This office was established in 2017 to oversee the state’s efforts in expanding broadband infrastructure and accessibility. It works with internet service providers, local governments, and other stakeholders to identify and address barriers to broadband deployment.
3. Connecting North Carolina Task Force: This task force was created by the governor in 2019 to develop recommendations on how to improve connectivity and increase broadband adoption across the state.
4. State Broadband Map: The North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Office maintains a publicly accessible map that shows the availability of high-speed internet service across the state. This helps residents and policymakers identify areas that lack adequate broadband access.
5. Digital Inclusion Summit: The Broadband Infrastructure Office hosts an annual summit that brings together community leaders, industry experts, and policymakers to discuss strategies for expanding digital inclusion and bridging the digital divide in North Carolina.
6. NC Student Connect Initiative: Launched in response to COVID-19, this program provides students from low-income families with free high-speed internet access at home through partnerships with internet service providers.
7. E-NC Authority Digital Equity Grants: The E-NC Authority offers grants to support digital equity projects that aim to increase broadband adoption and use among low-income households, seniors, persons with disabilities, and other underserved populations.
Overall, these initiatives demonstrate the state government’s commitment to promoting affordable and accessible high-speed broadband for all residents of North Carolina.
13. Do rural areas in North Carolina have equal access to affordable internet services as urban areas do?
No, there are significant differences in internet availability and access to affordable services between rural and urban areas in North Carolina. Rural areas often have less infrastructure and fewer internet service providers, leading to slower speeds and higher prices. Additionally, many rural areas lack options for high-speed broadband internet, limiting access to essential online resources such as education, telemedicine, and economic opportunities. Efforts are being made to expand internet infrastructure and increase coverage in rural areas, but there is still a digital divide between urban and rural communities in North Carolina.
14. What role do community organizations play in advocating for more affordable internet options within the state of North Carolina? Community organizations can play a significant role in advocating for more affordable internet options within the state of North Carolina by raising awareness, organizing advocacy campaigns, and lobbying decision-makers.
1. Raising awareness: Community organizations can utilize their platform and resources to educate the public about the issue of internet affordability in North Carolina. They can conduct public forums, distribute informational materials, and engage with local media to shed light on this issue.
2. Organizing advocacy campaigns: These organizations can organize grassroots campaigns to advocate for more affordable internet options. This could include mobilizing community members to contact their elected representatives and voice their concerns, as well as organizing rallies or protests to raise visibility for the cause.
3. Lobbying decision-makers: Community organizations can also directly engage with decision-makers at the local, state, and federal levels to push for policies that promote access to affordable internet services. They can meet with legislators, attend public hearings, and submit letters or petitions advocating for more affordable options for their communities.
In addition to these roles, community organizations can collaborate with other community stakeholders such as schools, businesses, and libraries to form strategic partnerships that leverage collective resources and influence. By working together, these organizations can amplify their advocacy efforts and bring about meaningful change in making internet services more affordable in North Carolina.
15. Are there any tax credits or incentives available to ISPs in exchange for offering lower-cost, high-speed internet services in North Carolina?
There are currently no specific tax credits or incentives available to ISPs in North Carolina in exchange for offering lower-cost, high-speed internet services. However, there are some broader economic development incentives and tax exemptions that may be available to businesses, including ISPs, that create jobs and invest in the state. These incentives are typically offered on a case-by-case basis and vary depending on the location and size of the business. Additionally, some local governments may offer incentives to attract ISPs and improve internet access in their communities. It is recommended that ISPs interested in potentially accessing these incentives consult with a financial advisor or contact the relevant state agencies for more information.
16. How transparent is the government of North Carolina’s decision-making process when it comes to allocating funds towards improving internet affordability?
North Carolina’s state government has made efforts towards increasing transparency in decision-making processes for budget allocations. The state’s open data portal, NC Open Budget, provides access to detailed information about the state’s budget expenditures, including those related to internet affordability and infrastructure. This includes information on how much money is allocated for what purposes and the status of each project.
Additionally, the North Carolina General Assembly website allows citizens to track legislation related to internet affordability and access. This includes proposed bills, their status, and committee meetings related to these issues.
However, there have been some criticisms of transparency in the state’s budgeting process. For example, some experts have expressed concern that certain budget items may be pushed through without adequate public scrutiny or understanding. In addition, some stakeholders have raised concerns about special interests influencing decisions regarding broadband funding.
Overall, while there appear to be efforts towards transparency in decision-making processes for allocating funds towards improving internet affordability in North Carolina, there are still areas where improvement can be made.
17. What strategies has North Carolina employed to promote digital equity and ensure that all residents have access to affordable internet?
There are several strategies that North Carolina has employed to promote digital equity and ensure affordable internet access for all residents:
1. Broadband Infrastructure Development: The state has invested in building broadband infrastructure in underserved areas, particularly rural and low-income communities. This includes funding for broadband expansion projects and working with private internet service providers to deploy high-speed internet services.
2. Digital Inclusion Programs: North Carolina has implemented programs aimed at bridging the digital divide, such as the NC Broadband Survey which collects data on broadband availability and utilization, and the NC Digital Equity Fund which provides grants to support community-based digital inclusion projects.
3. Public-Private Partnerships: The state has partnered with private sector companies to expand broadband access in underserved areas. These partnerships involve a combination of government funding, regulatory incentives, and support from the private sector.
4. Digital Literacy Initiatives: North Carolina has implemented programs to improve digital literacy skills among its residents, such as the NCWorks Certified Work Ready Communities initiative which provides training and assessment for essential workplace digital skills.
5. Low-Income Broadband Subsidies: The state offers subsidies for low-income households to help cover the cost of high-speed internet services through programs like ConnectHomeNC and Lifeline Assistance Program.
6. Affordable Internet Plans: Internet service providers in North Carolina are required by law to offer discounted plans for low-income households under the State Price List program.
7. Community-Based Solutions: Local governments and non-profit organizations in North Carolina have launched various community-based initiatives to expand access to affordable internet services in their respective regions.
18. Does the state government in North Carolina work closely with local municipalities to implement targeted programs for improving internet affordability? Yes, the state government in North Carolina works closely with local municipalities to implement targeted programs for improving internet affordability. The NC Department of Information Technology (NC DIT) partners with local governments and community organizations to provide resources and support for broadband infrastructure development, digital literacy training, and broadband adoption initiatives. Additionally, the governor’s office launched the NC Broadband Infrastructure Office in 2017 to coordinate statewide efforts to expand high-speed internet access and promote digital inclusion. This office works closely with local communities to identify areas of need and develop tailored solutions to improve internet affordability for residents.
19. How does the state ofNorth Carolina compare to neighboring states in terms of promoting and achieving widespread internet affordability?
North Carolina is generally ranked lower than its neighboring states when it comes to promoting and achieving widespread internet affordability. According to a 2020 study by BroadbandNow, North Carolina ranks 35th in the country for broadband access, while its neighboring states South Carolina and Virginia rank 27th and 26th respectively. Tennessee, which also borders North Carolina, ranks slightly higher at 29th.
Additionally, North Carolina has a higher percentage of households without any internet subscription (16%) compared to South Carolina (12%), Tennessee (13%), and Virginia (14%). This suggests that North Carolina may have lower rates of internet affordability and access compared to its neighbors.
Furthermore, North Carolina does not have any state-wide initiatives or programs specifically aimed at promoting and achieving widespread internet affordability. In contrast, Virginia has established the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI), which provides funding for broadband infrastructure projects in underserved areas, and Tennessee has the Broadband Accessibility Act which aims to expand broadband access to all residents.
Overall, while North Carolinahas made some efforts towards improving internet access and affordability in recent years, it still lags behind several of its neighboring states in this regard.
20. Are there long-term plans in place in North Carolina to address the issue of rising internet costs and make high-speed internet accessible for all residents?
Yes, North Carolina has taken steps to address rising internet costs and ensure access to high-speed internet for all residents. This includes implementing the NC Broadband Infrastructure Office, which works to expand high-speed internet infrastructure and availability across the state. Additionally, the state has implemented tax incentives for broadband providers to expand their networks into rural areas and created grants and loan programs to support broadband projects in underserved communities. There are also ongoing efforts to increase digital literacy and provide affordable options for low-income families through initiatives such as the Digital Inclusion Initiative and NC Student Connect.