Building a Sustainable Middle-Mile Network for Underserved Rural North Carolina proposes to build a 494-mile, middle-mile broadband network serving almost one half the population of North Carolina in 37 counties. The new fiber network proposes to increase the existing bandwidth by 10 to 20 times in underserved areas and will connect to 685 miles of existing infrastructure in the urbanized central region of the state, expanding the reach of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCERN). Currently, NCREN provides backbone and ISP services to community anchor institutions including the entire public University of North Carolina system, all public K-12 schools in the state, a majority of the independent colleges and universities and 20 of the 58 institutions in the North Carolina Community College System. This project will both provide better and more reliable connections for rural education and community support organizations already on NCREN, and create better connectivity for anchor institutions that are not part of NCREN, such as rural libraries, not-for-profit hospitals, and county-operated free health-care clinics. This would allow for expanded use of distance learning, telehealth services, electronic medical-records sharing, and smart-grid technology.