Brightspeed and Charter won big as North Carolina awarded another $206 million from its Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) broadband grant program, with the former scooping up funding in 29 counties and the latter in 11.
Grant totals for individual winners were not provided in the announcement. However, the state said the $206 million will help connect nearly 85,000 households and over 2,000 businesses across 69 counties. North Carolina previously awarded $23.4 million in GREAT grants in July and another $30.8 million in early August. To date, it has doled out more than $260 million of the $350 million in funding available through the program.
“We are excited to be awarding this unprecedented amount of funding to bring high-speed internet access to such a large number of residents and businesses across the state,” N.C. Department of Information Technology Secretary Jim Weaver said in a statement. “These funds will go a long way in closing the digital divide by bringing equitable access to both rural and urban communities.”
Brightspeed (which applied as Connect Holding) came away from the latest round with grants in the most counties, securing funding in 29 total. It previously won funding in one other county in July, meaning it has received grants in 30 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
The operator is set to take over Lumen Technologies’ ILEC assets in 20 states later this year and in June announced plans to run fiber to 300,000 new locations in North Carolina by the end of 2023.
Commenting on this week's awards, a Brightspeed representative told Fierce the money will "allow us to cover an additional 38,000 connections across the state. As we move closer to day one operations, these partnerships with local counties will play an important role in our efforts to expand broadband availability and provide fast, reliable internet and WiFi for families and businesses within our operating footprint."
Charter’s latest wins included grants for Haywood, Jackson, Jones, Lee, McDowell, Pamlico, Richmond, Rutherford, Scotland, Wake and Warren counties. The operator was previously awarded grants for Anson, Cabarrus and Polk counties in early August and Avery, Bertie, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln and New Hanover counties in July. All told, it has scored grants for 20 counties.
A Charter representative told Fierce the grants it won this week total more than $33.2 million. It received the largest awards in McDowell, Richmond and Rutherford, winning $4 million in state funding in each county. The money will help it connect approximately 11,900 locations across the 11 counties. The largest portion of those will be in Rutherford, where the funding will go toward broadband for 2,915 homes and businesses.
Other winners in this week’s funding round included Frontier Communications in three counties, Lumos in two counties and Altice USA (which applied as Cebridge Acquisition) in one county. Lumos’ GREAT grants total more than $7 million and will help the operator cover more than 2,600 locations across Alamance and Randolph counties.
This story has been updated with funding details from Charter and a comment from Brightspeed.