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North Carolina County Considers CenturyLink Broadband Deal

CenturyLink is applying for $4 million from the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology Grant for service providers, and now Vance County, N.C., may commit $750,000 of a total $7.8 million project price tag.

(TNS) — Vance County Commissioners voted to sign a memorandum of understanding with CenturyLink at their monthly board meeting on Monday.

CenturyLink is applying for $4 million from the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology Grant, available to internet service providers. The memorandum signed means that if CenturyLink were to win the grant, Vance County would commit 10% of the total project cost, $750,000 out of $7.8 million.

Then, CenturyLink could build up to 110 miles of fiber cables to bring an option for internet to households which have a download speeds of less than 25 megabytes per second and an upload speed of three megabytes per second.

The decision passed with no discussion and a unanimous vote.

The county would convey the $750,000 as remittance when the project is completed, according to the memorandum. The remittance would be paid with funds from the federal American Recovery Plan Act, as opposed to local dollars.

“Vance County is looking forward to potentially expanding broadband across the county. This is one opportunity,” County Manager Jordan McMillen said. “It’s a win-win.”

According to the memorandum, neither party will be under any obligation to the other if CenturyLink loses the grant, if CenturyLink decides not to submit the application or if the control of the holding company ownership of CenturyLink to Connect Holding LLC fails to close as it is expected to in the third quarter of 2022.

If CenturyLink wins the grant, it would be obligated to fulfill all other obligations listed in the memorandum, like finishing the project on time. The county would have its own set of obligations, like conveying the remittance of $750,000 on time.

Eligible premises, of which there are 2,261 in Vance County, would not be forced to switch to CenturyLink. The fiber internet would provide customers another service option. Companies who provide internet service in areas where fiber would be built would get the opportunity to challenge the grant, which potentially would reduce the scope of the project.

The GREAT Grant is provided to private ISPs by the N.C. Department of Information Technology’s Broadband Infrastructure Office for the purpose of bringing broadband to underserved communities in the state.

Fiber-optic internet, shortened to fiber internet in common parlance, is a way of transmitting information. Tiny fibers are combined to form cables. When complete, fiber internet speeds can reach 70% of the speed of light, according to CenturyLink.

© 2022 Henderson Daily Dispatch, N.C. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.