FLORENCE, S.C. — More than 17,000 homes and businesses in the Pee Dee could soon have a faster connection to the worldwide web.
The Federal Communications Commission announced Monday that it had allocated over $121 million in support funds for 10 years to broadband providers to expand broadband access to more than 108,833 South Carolina residents through a Rural Digital Fund Phase 1 option.
Nearly all locations in South Carolina that were eligible for the auction will receive access to broadband with speeds of at least 100Mbps download speed and 20Mbps upload speed, with 96% getting gigabit-speed broadband.
“This historic auction is great news for the residents of so many rural South Carolina communities who will get access to high-quality broadband service in areas that for too long have been on the wrong side of the digital divide,” Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said.
“We structured this innovative and groundbreaking auction to prioritize bids for high-speed, low-latency services to deliver the best results for rural Americans, and the results show that this strategy worked. This auction was the Commission’s single largest step ever taken toward delivering digital opportunity to every American and is another key success in our ongoing commitment to universal service.”
In the Pee Dee, a subsidiary of Charter Communications will receive $20.71 million in support funds to bring broadband access to 16,098 homes and businesses, including 2,833 homes and businesses in Florence County, 2,861 in Darlington County, 3,079 in Marion County, 1,521 in Williamsburg County, 2,693 in Dillon and 3,111 in Marlboro County.
Charter is the parent company of local cable and broadband provider Spectrum, which was formerly known as Time Warner.
Charter’s subsidiary will receive $4.11 million in support to expand access in Florence County, $4.96 million in support to expand in Darlington County, $2.36 million in Marion County, $2.79 million in Williamsburg County, $5.6 million in Dillon County and $878,977 to expand in Marlboro County.
Horry Telephone Cooperative will receive $65,515 in support to expand broadband access to 754 homes and businesses in Marion County.
And Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, also known as SpaceX, will receive $161,919 in support to expand broadband access to 174 homes and businesses in the Pee Dee, including 63 in Florence County, 31 in Darlington County, 55 in Williamsburg and 25 in Dillon.
SpaceX has developed a plan to use a new satellite system to send broadband access to Americans living in rural parts of the country.
The funding for the expansion support is provided by the Federal Communications Commission’s universal service charge.
That charge is a fee that telecommunication companies − and usually their customers − pay the commission. It was implemented in 1997. It is usually listed separately on the telephone bills of customers.