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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The association representing North Carolina’s cities and towns says new legislation is needed to develop partnerships between local governments and private broadband providers so areas still lacking high-speed internet are covered.

The North Carolina League of Municipalities released a report Wednesday recommending changes to get more fiber-optic cable installed in the state, particularly rural areas.

The report says at least 637,000 people lack broadband-speed internet, and the private sector won’t be able to fill coverage gaps because of population densities too low to attract capital. The paper says commerce, health care, education and agriculture are hurt because of it.

The league wants the General Assembly to approve laws making clear local governments can enter public-private partnerships to expand coverage, and invest in projects through borrowing, taxes or economic incentives.