More North Carolinians will be able to get access to high-speed digital subscriber line (DSL) service under a new strategy developed by the N.C. Consortium of Internet Service Providers.

The non-profit organization recently signed a contract with Sprint that enables ISPs to buy DSL services from Sprint at wholesale prices and then re-sell the service.

To further boost the group’s initiative, the Rural Internet Access Authority will provide it with a $250,000 grant. The funds will be used to further reduce DSL prices, according to the RIAA.

“By pooling their resources and working together on this project, our state’s ISPs can deliver improved Internet service to their customers at lower costs,” said Dr. James Leutze, chairman of the RIAA.

Through the grant as well as the deal with Sprint, the ISP group will help members share in the cost of DSL services, thus lowering operating costs and encouraging expansion of DSL to more remote, underserved areas.

“As service increases and cost decreases, more North Carolinians will be able to get connected and take advantage of all the Internet has to offer,” Leutze said. “The NCCISP’s innovative project has great potential for helping springboard North Carolina ahead of other states in overall connectivity.”

The RIAA was formed in August of 2000 to form public and private partnerships and to find means of expanding broadband Internet access across North Carolina. MCNC helped fund the project with $30 million it received from the sale of a spin-off venture at the height of the Internet boom.

Since then, the RIAA has provided a series of grants and incentives for a wide variety of services, from wireless to satellite, across many of the state’s rural areas to make broadband available.