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County partnering with internet providers in grant application

The Polk County Board of Commissioners recently voted unanimously to partner with Charter Communications and Windstream to apply for a state grant that could help increase broadband coverage in the county.

The potential grant is through the N.C. Growing Rural Economies with Access To Technology (“GREAT”) grant program. There is a potential to add nearly 4,000 sites with broadband in the unserved areas of Polk County.

Representatives from Charter Communications and Windstream, two local internet service providers, were at a recent Polk County Board of Commissioners meeting to give presentations.

Both companies were interested in applying for the grant and the Commissioners agreed to partner with both providers. The county will provide $300,000 in funding and the grant would match a percentage of those funds to assist with the project. The Commissioners agreed to use funds that the county previously received from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan.

There is a deadline of April 4 to submit the grant’s proposal and the awards should be announced mid-summer.

This is one of several grants that the Polk County Board of Commissioners have worked on in an effort to increase the county’s broadband coverage.

In fact, both Windstream and Charter Communications won Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (“RDOF”) awards in 2021 to bring broadband to the County’s unserved areas, and they have a six-year window to complete work for this award.

The GREAT grant sites are in addition to the RDOF sites. The GREAT timeline, if awarded, will be completed in two years. If Windstream and Charter Communications win the GREAT grants, it should move the timing up for the RDOF locations because it will make more economic sense to build out simultaneously.

Earlier it was announced that the County didn’t receive the National Telecommunications and Information Administration grant that it partnered with Charter Communications for.


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