AN ACT TO FOSTER INFRASTRUCTURE FOR BROADBAND EXPANSION AND RESOURCES IN NORTH CAROLINA BY AUTHORIZING COUNTIES AND CITIES TO INSTALL AND LEASE BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE TO INCREASE ADEQUATE BROADBAND SERVICES TO ATTRACT INVESTMENT IN LOCAL ECONOMIES, PROVIDE FOR EDUCATIONAL AND CAREER OPPORTUNITIES, MODERNIZE FARMING TECHNOLOGIES, AND TO PROVIDE FOR IMPROVED HEALTH CARE.
Enacts new GS 153A-458 giving counties the authority to install or maintain broadband infrastructure to be leased to a private provider if: (1) the lessee is a person operating for profit in this state to provide broadband services to customers and (2) the county has at least one of the following: more than 4.75% of the county is without a provider of broadband infrastructure, or a major military installation. Enacts new GS 160A-499.5 giving cities the authority to install or maintain broadband infrastructure to be leased to a private provider if: (1) the city has at least 60% of its population lying in one of the counties in GS 153A-458(a)(2) (has more than four 4.75% of the county without a provider of broadband infrastructure, or a major military installation) and (2) the lessee is a person operating for profit in this state to provide broadband services to customers. Defines broadband infrastructure as wireline or wireless infrastructure capable of providing terrestrially deployed Internet access service with transmission speeds of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and at least three megabits per second upload (25:3) or as defined by the Federal Communications Commission, whichever speeds are faster. Allows using ad valorem taxes or any other unencumbered funds in exercising the authority granted under these statutes. Requires holding a public hearing before adopting any resolution at a regular meeting stating intent to install broadband infrastructure for the purpose of leasing in accordance with the specified statute. Sets out requirements for the notice of the hearing, including requiring that it be published at least once, no less than one week before the hearing date. Requires the county/city to prepare a report before beginning installation of broadband infrastructure, to be available in the clerk's office for at least 90 days before the public hearing, that contains: (1) a business plan for providing broadband infrastructure; (2) results of a feasibility study to determine needs and available resources and information specified in the statute. Specifies that the statutes do not grant authority, or shall be construed to do so, to a county/city to use broadband infrastructure constructed under these statutes to provide communications services as defined in under the specified statute or in accordance with Article 16A of GS Chapter 160A (Provision of Communications Service by Cities).
Amends GS 153A-149 and GS 160A-209 to allow levying property taxes to construct wireline and wireless infrastructure. Effective for taxable years beginning on or after July 1, 2021.
Amends GS 159-81 to allow broadband infrastructure for the purpose of leasing under new GS 160A-272.5 to be revenue bond projects.
Enacts new GS 160A-272.5 governing the lease of broadband infrastructure installed or maintained in accordance with GS 153A-458 or GS 160A-499.5 to a private provider for delivery of service to customers. Allows the lease to be for up to 25 years. Requires property to be leased under a resolution of the governing board that authorizes the execution of the lease agreement adopted at a regular governing board meeting; requires 30 days' notice. Requires all leases to meet the following requirements: (1) the lease must be entered into on a technology neutral basis, (2) the lease must be open to similarly situated private providers on comparable terms and conditions, and (3) requests for proposals must be solicited by the governing board before adopting the resolution authorizing the execution of the lease--sets out additional requirements for the requests for proposals and the related advertisements. Specifies that in determining the term of a proposed lease, periods that may be added to the original term by options to renew or extend must be included. Applies to leases entered in on or after October 1, 2021.
Amends GS 153A-459 to allow a county to provide grants to unaffiliated qualified private providers of high-speed internet access service for the purpose of expanding service in unserved areas in the county, no longer specifying that it be for economic development.
Amends GS 160A-321 to provide that as to transfers to another governmental entity, a city-owned public enterprise must not be discontinued in its entirety (was, discontinued), unless the proposal to discontinue in its entirety is first submitted to a vote and approved by a majority of voters.
Amends GS 160A-340.2 by prohibiting broadband infrastructure constructed by a city for the purpose of leasing under new GS 160A-272.5 from being used to provide communication services under Article 16A (Provision of Communications Service by Cities) of GS Chapter 160A.
Effective October 1, 2021.