Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — The State of North Carolina will get $500,000 to help more low-income households afford monthly high-speed internet service.
The Federal Communications Commission has awarded the N.C. Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) Division of Broadband and Digital Equity an Affordable Connectivity Program Outreach Grant to help the state reach its goal of enrolling 1 million N.C. households in the Affordable Connectivity Program by the end of 2024. More than 690,000 N.C. households are currently participating in the program.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) offers eligible low-income households a $30 per month discount on high-speed internet service, with households on qualifying tribal lands eligible for up to a $75 per month. Participating families can also get a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50.
“Cost can be a barrier that keeps families from taking advantage of all of the education, health and economic opportunities available thanks to high-speed internet,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “All North Carolinians should have access to high-speed internet and I encourage anyone who may qualify to sign up for these discounts.”
“We’re working to make digital access more affordable, so North Carolinians don’t have to decide between paying for high-speed internet service or other necessities,” added NCDIT Office of Digital Equity and Literacy Director Annette Taylor. “This grant will boost our ACP enrollment efforts by supporting outreach through community partners and state government agencies and promoting in-person enrollment events.”
Households may qualify for the monthly internet discounts and device discounts if they:
♦ Earn at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines;
♦ Participate in certain assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, or Lifeline; or
♦ Are approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program
“High-speed internet connects rural North Carolinians to health care professionals for telemedicine visits, deaf and hard of hearing people to critical communications tools and services, and underserved communities to services,” said Debra Farrington, chief health equity officer for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. “We can promote access for all North Carolinians by helping people sign up for this important service.”
Many leading internet providers in North Carolina offer eligible households a high-speed internet plan for no more than $30 per month. Eligible families who pair their ACP benefit with one of these plans can receive high-speed internet at no cost. Visit http://getinternet.gov for more details and to enroll.
For more information about the NCDIT Division of Broadband and Digital Equity, the Affordable Connectivity Program, or Gov. Cooper’s plan to close the digital divide in North Carolina, visit https://www.ncbroadband.gov.