H.B. 398
Mar 19, 2019
Short Title: Growing GREAT-Rural Broadband Funding. (Public)
Sponsors: Representatives Arp, Szoka, Saine, and Barnes (Primary Sponsors).
Referred to:
4 The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
5 SECTION 1.(a) Notwithstanding G.S. 143C-5-2, G.S. 143B-1373 is amended by
6 adding a new subsection to read:
7 "(p) There is hereby appropriated each fiscal year the sum of fifteen million dollars
8 ($15,000,000) from the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund to the Growing Rural Economies
9 with Access to Technology Fund established pursuant to this section to be used to administer the
10 GREAT program."
11 SECTION 1.(b) This section shall expire on June 30, 2029.
12 SECTION 2. G.S. 143B-1373 reads as rewritten:
13 "§ 143B-1373. Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program.
14 (a) As used in this section, the following definitions apply:
15 …
16 (6) Eligible project. – An eligible project is a discrete and specific project located
17 in an unserved area of an economically distressed county seeking to provide
18 broadband service to homes, businesses, and community anchor points not
19 currently served. Eligible projects do not include middle mile, backhaul, and
20 other similar projects not directed at broadband service to end users. If a
21 project area is located within more than one county, for the purposes of this
22 section, the project shall be deemed to be located in the county where the
23 greatest number of unserved households will be served.
24 …
25 (c) Project areas comprised of census blocks, or portions thereof, within which a
26 broadband provider is receiving State or federal matching funds to deploy technologically neutral
27 scalable broadband service within the next 18 months are ineligible for the GREAT program. It
28 is essential for the Office to know the location of census blocks, or portions thereof, comprising
29 these areas so it can determine project eligibility. A private provider receiving State or federal
30 matching funds to deploy broadband service within such an area shall, within 60 days of the
31 effective date of this section, submit only a listing of the census blocks, or portions thereof,
32 comprising each of its federally funded project areas meeting this requirement and nothing more
33 to the Office. In future program years, the cutoff date for submitting this census block data shall
34 be May 15. This will enable the office to update maps and advise applicants as to the unserved
35 areas of the State that are eligible for consideration in that program year. The Office shall only
36 utilize this data to update maps of census blocks to reflect these census blocks, or portions thereof,
General Assembly Of North Carolina Session 2019
1 as being served. Failure on the part of a provider to submit the listing of census blocks by the
2 cutoff date shall result in those areas being eligible for inclusion under this program during the
3 upcoming program year. The Office shall use the census block data provided only for mapping
4 of unserved areas. Upon expiration of the 18-month period described in this subsection, a private
5 provider receiving State or federal matching funds to deploy broadband service shall submit
6 written documentation that broadband deployment has begun or been completed in the census
7 blocks, or portions thereof, that have been deemed ineligible by the Office due to the existence
8 of a federally funded project area. Information provided to the Office pursuant to this subsection
9 is not a public record, as that term is defined in G.S. 132-1.
10 (d) Applications for grants will be submitted at times designated by the Secretary and
11 will include, at a minimum, the following information:
12 …
13 (5) An illustration or description of the area to be served and the number of
14 homes, businesses, community anchor points, agricultural operations, or
15 agricultural processing facilities that will have access to broadband as a result
16 of the project.project, including any publicly available addresses for the
17 foregoing.
18 …
19 (d1) A wireless provider submitting an application pursuant to this section shall bear the
20 burden of proof that the proposed area to be served can, in fact, be served using wireless
21 technology. The burden of proof may be satisfied by the submission of data, maps, and any other
22 information satisfactory to the Office, demonstrating that the area and number of households
23 proposed to be served can be provided the minimum upload and download speeds indicated in
24 the application.
25 (e) Applications shall be made publicly available by posting on the Web site of the
26 Department of Information Technology for a period of at least 30 days prior to award. During
27 the 30-day period, any interested party may submit comments to the Secretary concerning any
28 pending application. A provider of broadband services may submit a protest of any application
29 on the grounds the proposed project covers an area that is not an eligible area under this section.
30 Protests shall be submitted in writing, accompanied by all relevant supporting documentation,
31 and shall be considered by the Office in connection with the review of the application. Upon
32 submission of evidence satisfactory to the Office that the proposed project area includes
33 households that have a minimum upload and download speed of 10:1, as measured using Federal
34 Communications Commission technology, the Office may amend an application to reduce the
35 number of unserved households in the project area to reflect an accurate level of current
36 broadband service. For applications with filed protests, the Secretary shall issue a written
37 decision to the protesting party at least 15 days prior to the approval of that application.
38 (f) The Office may consult with the Department of Commerce to determine if a
39 broadband project proposed under this section will benefit a potential economic development
40 project relevant to the proposed area outlined in the broadband project.
41 (g) Applications shall be scored based upon a system that awards a single point for criteria
42 considered to be the minimum level for the provision of broadband service with additional points
43 awarded to criteria that exceed minimum levels. The Office shall score project applications in
44 accordance with the following:
45 …
46 (6) Base speed multiplier. – Projects that will provide minimum download and
47 minimum upload speeds shall have the aggregate points given under
48 subdivisions (1) through (5) of this subsection multiplied by a factor at the
49 level indicated in the table below:
50 Minimum Download:
51 Minimum Upload Score Multiplier
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1 10:1 Mbps. 0.95
2 25:3 Mbps. or greater> 100:10 Mbps. 1.35
3 100:10 Mbps. or greater 1.55
4 (h) The Office shall score applications based upon the metrics provided in subsection (g)
5 of this section. In awarding grants based upon the scoring metrics, the Office shall also award an
6 additional point to projects where a county has a Community Broadband Planning Playbook that
7 meets the guidelines established by the Office.
8 …."
9 SECTION 3. G.S. 143C-4-3.1 reads as rewritten:
10 "§ 143C-4-3.1. State Capital and Infrastructure Fund.
11 …
12 (e) Use of Funds. – Monies in the Fund shall first be used to meet the debt service
13 obligations of the State. In addition to meeting the State's debt service obligations, monies in the
14 Fund may be used for the following purposes:
15 (1) New State and The University of North Carolina capital projects governed
16 pursuant to Article 8 of Chapter 143C of the General Statutes.
17 (2) Repair and renovation of existing capital assets, as provided in
18 G.S. 143C-8-13.
19 (3) Broadband infrastructure projects funded through appropriations to the
20 Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology Fund established in
21 G.S. 143B-1373(b).
22 (f) Funds Available Only Upon Appropriation. – Funds reserved to the Fund shall be
23 available for expenditure only upon an act of appropriation by the General Assembly."
24 SECTION 4. This act is effective when it becomes law.
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Statutes affected:
Filed: 143B-1373
Edition 1: 143B-1373
Edition 2: 143B-1373
Edition 3: 143B-1350, 66-58.12
Ratified: 143B-1350, 66-58.12