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North Carolina will launch initiative to expand internet access

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce visited North Carolina to make the announcement, which promises to close the digital divide and provide internet for everyone.

DURHAM, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and U.S Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced an initiative called Internet for All, which will launch in North Carolina. 

Using $45 billion in funding from the bipartisan Infrastructure Law, every state will get $5 million to create a 5-year action plus. The rest of the $100 million funding the program will be divided by need, with the states with the most underserved population when it comes to internet connection getting the most. 

According to Raimondo, 30 million Americans, including more than a million in North Carolina, don't have access to the internet. 

The announcement was made at the  Kramden Institute in Durham. The Kramden Institute is a company that has donated thousands of computers to North Carolina families over the years, WRAL-TV reported Friday. 

In addition, the initiative will create 100,000 jobs, said Raimondo. Part of the plan includes training people to help bring internet connection by doing jobs like laying fiber. 

Raimondo said the goal is to tackle internet availability and affordability. She said the average cost of internet in the US is $60 per month, which Raimondo said is too high for most Americans. 

President Joe Biden announced Monday that 20 internet companies nationwide have agreed to provide discounted service to people with low incomes, a program that could effectively make tens of millions of households eligible for free service through an already existing federal subsidy.

RELATED: Are you eligible? White House announces discounted internet service program

The $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year included $14.2 billion funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides $30 monthly subsidies ($75 in tribal areas) on internet service for millions of lower-income households.

With the new commitment from the internet providers, some 48 million households will be eligible for $30 monthly plans for 100 megabits per second, or higher speed, service — making internet service fully paid for with government assistance if they sign up with one of the providers participating in the program.

Biden noted that families of four earning about $55,000 annually — or those including someone eligible for Medicaid — will get a $30 monthly credit, meaning about 40 percent of Americans will qualify.

RELATED: Yes, eligible Americans need to apply for a federal program to get discounted internet service

The participating providers are Allo Communications, AltaFiber (and Hawaiian Telecom), Altice USA (Optimum and Suddenlink), Astound, AT&T, Breezeline, Comcast, Comporium, Frontier, IdeaTek, Cox Communications, Jackson Energy Authority, MediaCom, MLGC, Spectrum (Charter Communications), Starry, Verizon (Fios only), Vermont Telephone Co., Vexus Fiber and Wow! Internet, Cable, and TV.

American households are eligible for subsidies through the Affordable Connectivity Program if their income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, or if a member of their family participates in one of several programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) and Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit.

You can go to www.getinternet.gov to determine eligibility and sign up for the program.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Contact Indira Eskieva at ieskieva@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.