Durham, N.C. — US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said Friday that the federal government is launching an “Internet for All” initiative.
Some $45 billion of funding under the infrastructure law will be allotted nationwide to improve access to high-speed internet. North Carolina is due to receive at least $100 million of that funding, according to Raimondo.
“Every American deserves access to the internet, period,” Raimondo said.
The plan is to provide internet access to all Americans by 2030.
On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper, D-North Carolina, and Raimondo were at The Kramden Institute along NC Highway 55 to speak about the new federal support that will help increase internet access.
Raimondo said this initiative was the “biggest investment in the internet ever in our nation’s history.”
“Internet is not a luxury. It’s a necessity,” she said. “It’s about accessing healthcare.”
An estimated 1.1 million households in North Carolina either don’t have access to high-speed Internet or can’t afford it. Data from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration shows that in North Carolina, Wake County has the lowest percentage of its population without internet (5.8%).
Here is a look at the percentage of population without internet, according to the same data:
- Cumberland County: 12.8%
- Durham County: 9.9%
- Northampton County: 40.2% (highest percentage in the state)
- Orange County: 7.3%
The federal funds can be used for laying cable and giving people computers.
“If you don’t know how to do it, if you can’t afford to access it, if you don’t have a device and can’t afford one, then you can’t be connected,” Cooper said.
Kramden Institute student Lorie Lewis said what she’s learned at the nonprofit has changed her life.
“It’s opening doors for me, and helping me to be able to teach my granddaughter about computers,” Lewis said.
Four days ago, President Joe Biden announced 20 Internet companies are committed to help improve access through discounted services. A member of the Biden administration will join Cooper at The Kramden Institute, a company that has donated thousands of computers to North Carolina families over the years.