President Joe Biden on Thursday visited Raleigh to announce an $82 million dollar investment in high-speed internet, which will help expand the critical technology to an additional 16,000 households in North Carolina through funding provided by the American Rescue Plan.
This latest investment in high speed internet brings the administration’s total funding for high speed internet in North Carolina to $3 billion dollars.
Ret. Army Veteran Edward Smith of Tar Heel, a small town of 117 people in Bladen County, introduced Biden at the event at Abbott’s Creek Community Center in North Raleigh. Smith said that having high-speed internet brought to his community was life changing for him and his neighbors.
“Before we got high-speed internet, I was doing a lot of paperwork to receive my VA benefits, through the mail or by driving to the library. During the pandemic, my grandkids were doing a lot of their schoolwork online, and the service we had at the time was very slow.”
Biden said that by 2030, all homes in the state will have access to high speed internet.
“Universal high speed internet in all of North Carolina by the end of this decade.”
The president compared his efforts to those of former President Franklin Roosevelt when he sought to bring electricity to all homes during the 1930s.
“Nearly a century ago, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act, bringing electricity to every home and farm in America because it was in cities, but not a lot of rural areas. Because electricity had become an essential part of modern life,” Biden said. “He was determined that no American should be left behind, whether they were in a big city or a rural area.”
Biden said that he sees high-speed internet as essential today as electricity was nearly a century ago.
“I made the same determination about our time,” he said. “It really is critical.”
Governor Roy Cooper was the event’s first speaker and praised the administration’s efforts to support high-speed internet in North Carolina.
“[President Biden] led the way in making transformational investments that will be felt for generations to come, decades down the road,” Cooper said. “This man did more in his first two years as President than most could do in eight years.”
The $82 million dollars will include funding for the laying of the fiber optic cables needed to deliver this technology to homes and businesses across the state. Much of the fiber optic cables will come from Hickory, leading fiber optic cable producer in the country.
“Forty percent of all the fiber optic cable in America is being manufactured in Hickory,” Biden said.
While that is a significant share, the president believes that percentage could increase.
“I know that number is going to continue to grow, jobs are going to continue to grow, and when jobs grow, everything grows.”
Biden’s visit to Raleigh was his seventh to North Carolina since taking office.
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