Frontier GREAT Grant for Macon County

Jeff Lee, Little T Broadband

The GREAT grant is a broadband grant program developed by the State of North Carolina to help address the need for rural broadband expansion. The Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program was originally enacted in 2018 by the State legislature, but unfortunately the program was not sufficiently funded through State funds to make real impact across the state. In 2021 the GREAT program was funded with $350M of federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and the first awards from this newly funded program were announced in the fall of 2022.

Frontier Communications applied for and received a GREAT award for Macon County. The award was announced in September of 2022 and the grant agreement was signed between Frontier, Macon County, and the State in May of 2023. This $3.8M grant will provide fiber service to 2700 homes and businesses throughout the County. Frontier has 2 years to complete this build, which means they must activate service to all 2700 awarded locations by May of 2025.

Though there are many of us in Macon County that have had a less than favorable experience with them, Frontier has been communicating to us that they are working to reinvent themselves as a company. They went through bankruptcy 2020 and have emerged in 2021 as a company with new corporate management, new funding, and a new competitive corporate vision. Though only time will tell if they are successful in this endeavor, their vision seems solid and they are on a path toward this goal.

Since May of this year, Frontier has been actively engaged in planning and engineering for the build throughout the County. They currently have contractors working out in the community to assess the condition of power poles and other assets needed to complete the build. If you see Frontier contractors working in your area, that is a good sign that things are happening. We saw them out in the Tessentee area just this past week. Our understanding is that active construction will start on the project in January of 2024.

A representative from Frontier recently gave a presentation to the Macon County Board of Commissioners at the November 2023 meeting. A copy of the Frontier public presentation can be downloaded from the link below. Hopefully you will find this presentation very informative about their plans and build timeline.

Frontier achieving success with this GREAT grant program will provide benefit to not only the 2700 award locations but to many other nearby home and business locations across the County. We look forward to watching their progress.