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Budget earmarks $10M to expand rural broadband

May 25th, 2018

— Legislative budget writers said Thursday that the new state budget will include $10 million in grants to expand broadband internet service in rural areas.

The announcement was one of several Republican General Assembly leaders have rolled out in recent days as they put the finishing touches on a budget expected to be revealed – and to pass – next week.

The new funding would be supplemented with federal money, and matches would be required from providers looking to tap into the grants program, according to Senate Appropriations Co-Chairman Harry Brown and state Rep. Dean Arp, R-Union, a budget chairman in the House.

Both men characterized the $10 million as one year’s worth of grants and said increased funding is likely in the future. So, too, are tweaks to the program as the state learns what works best, said Brown, R-Onslow.

Applicants would have to show evidence that local residents, government, businesses and institutions support a project, according to a news release on the program. The lawmakers said there’s a clawback feature to make sure promises are kept.

Grants would be awarded based on a points system that takes into account the number of people being served, download and upload speeds and the number of entities partnering on a project, according to the release.

Article source: https://www.wral.com/budget-earmarks-10m-to-expand-rural-broadband/17578530/

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