American Rescue Plan funds could help Beaufort County expand broadband internet access


WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Beaufort County could get about $9.1 million from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Counties can use the money for several benefits including broadband infrastructure.

County leaders said the money is much needed because the pandemic continues to highlight the need for better internet access.

“We live just outside of the city and the internet access is ok but it’s not quite up to speed,” said David Harragin.

Harragin and many other Beaufort County residents have dealt with low internet speeds, and they’re hoping for a change in connection, speed and more providers.

“I would love to get a stronger option and a different company actually. We’ve all have dealt with them (Suddenlink) and I suspect a good number of us are tired of dealing with them,” he said.

Change could be on the way.

“We do have a proposal to the board of commissioners using some of those funds to help expand broadband infrastructure in the county,” said Brian Alligood, county manager

Alligood said broadband access has always been a struggle but the pandemic has only increased the need.

“With kids at home and not being able to go to school. They’re having to do work electronically and not having that access. They’re having to go somewhere and sit in the McDonald’s parking lot to do their homework. It has shown how big that deficit is,” he said.

Monday night, Alligood and the county’s attorney will request commissioners allow them to work on agreement negotiations with RiverStreet, a local internet provider, to work on expanding reliable internet access to county residents.

“That is something we’re excited about, hoping to move forward and correct,” said Alligood.

Commissioners are expected to vote on the RiverStreet Network’s broadband expansion plan.

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