General Assembly Adjusts GREAT Program to Prevent Providers from Abandoning Rural Communities
Raleigh, N.C. — In an effort to prevent broadband service providers from breaking their promises of providing high-speed internet to under-served communities, the North Carolina General Assembly updated the GREAT Grant Program.
The update allows for the state to cancel an agreement and open up a special application process if a provider fails to perform, reduces, or proposes to reduce the scope of the project. The new application process will allow the state to partner with a new provider to complete a project that is “substantially similar in location and scope” as the canceled agreement.
The change comes after Caswell County experienced a roadblock in the grant process after a provider could not deliver on its promise of delivering high-speed internet to thousands of residents.
“The GREAT Program was established to bring high-speed internet to under-served communities across North Carolina,” Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), who represents Caswell County, said. “It was obvious we needed a remedy in place to support rural communities when a provider can’t uphold their end of the agreement. I’m thankful we can prevent this from happening to other communities.”
The update was included in House Bill 1105, which passed the Senate 44–5, was signed into law by Gov. Cooper on Sept. 4, 2020.