Recognizing that replacing the poles that host broadband equipment can be an impediment to broadband development, the state of North Carolina has established guidelines to help keep the process moving forward. The issue has been that broadband providers have looked to utility companies to shoulder the cost of replacing host poles, while the utility companies typically put the responsibility back on the companies wanting to attach their equipment to the pole. As Broadband Breakfast reports, North Carolina’s Broadband Office has announced that the state’s program will use ARPA funds to help reimburse broadband providers for pole expenses.
North Carolina has decided to set aside $100 million for pole replacement assistance, with broadband providers able to claim 50 percent of their costs up to $10,000 per pole. The program is scheduled to begin doling out funding in February 2024. Eligible applicants include those providers who replaced poles in underserved communities on or after June 1, 2021.
“It addresses a significant barrier to closing the digital divide in remote parts of our state,” stated North Carolina’s Department of Information Technology Deputy Secretary for Broadband and Digital Equity, Nate Denny.