Families and businesses in Forsyth County have been added to a statewide initiative expanding access to high-speed Internet through the Government Grants Program.
The money comes from the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program providing $206 million to 69 participating districts in the latest round.
Forsyth is connected through Connect Holding II LLC, which is also the seller in Ashe and Wilkes counties.
The Forsyth Scholarship is expected to serve 20 families and no businesses. Scholarship funding is $211,066 with a local match of $173,690.
The participating vendor is NC Communications Advanced Serv (Lumos) in Alamance and Randolph, while AT&T NC is the provider in Guilford and Zitel LLC in Surry.
The initiative is expected to benefit 1,864 families and 14 businesses in Randolph, along with 711 families and 23 businesses in Alamance, 249 families and three businesses in Guilford, 146 families and six businesses in Surrey, and 132 families and two businesses in Wilkes and seven families. And two businesses in Ashi.
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In all, nearly 85,000 households and more than 2,400 businesses statewide will benefit.
Additional grants are expected to be announced this fall, amounting to a total of $350 million.
“Access to high-speed Internet is critical for people to work, learn, access health services remotely, and communicate with one another,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement.
The North Carolina Department of Information Technology’s Office of Broadband Infrastructure handles grants.
“This money will go a long way in bridging the digital divide by providing equitable access to both rural and urban communities,” said Jim Weaver, state information technology secretary and state chief information officer.
The grant program provides matching grants to Internet service providers and electric membership cooperatives that may partner with individual counties to compete for funding to expand high-speed Internet access to unserved and underserved areas of the state.
All ISP applicants must participate in the Affordable Connection Program, which provides eligible low-income families a $30 discount per month on high-speed Internet or provides access to a similar low-cost program.
Applicants must agree to provide a high-speed service, defined as a minimum download of 100 Mbps (megabits per second) and upload of 20 Mbps, capable of downloading up to 100 Mbps and uploading 100 Mbps on or before December 31 1st (December) 2026.
All grants are contingent upon final grant agreements with broadband service provider partners.
The grants are: Randolph, $4 million and $796,715 domestic games; Alamance, $3.12 million and $549,949 domestic games; Guilford, $563,954 with $99,521 for the domestic game; Wilkes, $556,266 and $238,400 domestic game; Surry, $372,175 and $159,504 domestic game; and Ashe, $128,529 and $105,160 domestic match.
For more information about the affordable calling program and the $30 per month packages, go to getinternet.gov.
On August 2, grants were announced for Davy, Stokes, and Yadkin counties. Eleven counties have been selected for the second round affecting more than 13,000 households and 582 businesses. The total grant is approximately $30.8 million in grants.
On July 18, Davidson County was among the first 12 counties announced on July 18 in the first round that affected nearly 7,000 households and 374 businesses. There were more than $23.4 million in grants, as well as $7.34 million in similar grants.
Yadkinville-based Zirrus, formerly Yadtel, is the ISP involved in the Davidson, Davie, Stokes and Yadkin expansions.
Stokes received the largest amount of funding from three Triad counties of $4 million to Zirrus, along with the $2.53 million requested from Zirrus.
Yadkin was at $2.59 million for Zirrus and a $1.11 million match, while Davie was at $595,983 for Zirrus and a $255,421 match.
For Davidson’s grant, it was valued at $1.96 million to Zirrus, with Zirrus required to provide a match worth $346,470.