CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – The South Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Program is working to link thousands of communities in the state with high-speed, broadband internet access.
A portion of the Coronavirus Relief Fund will pay for the expansion to increase capacity for distance learning, telework, or telehealth, according to SC Office of Regulatory Staff.
“The faster your internet connection, the more data you can transmit over that connection in a given period of time,” the ORS website explains. “With the recent pandemic, the internet has become even more important as an access point for education, telehealth, and other crucial activities of daily living.”
Many of the 550 areas identified as “unserved and impacted by COVID-19” are located in rural parts of the state.
The coronavirus pandemic has served as the gateway for funding. In total, 182,294 households were identified in SC to be without high-speed, affordable internet access. That includes about 10,000 households in the Tri-county area. However, officials say not every household will be included in this first round of expansions.
“We are making progress. We are taking steps to get people connected in South Carolina, and this is just what I think is going to be the first of many steps,” Allen said. “Once the shovels go in the ground and the service is delivered, I believe the leaders of the state are going to be even more motivated to be able to expand service throughout South Carolina.”
“The areas identified are THE areas South Carolina needs developed going forward. This piece of CARES Act funding was never going to be enough to complete the job or even get it halfway there. Much more funding is needed for that to become a reality, and it’s likely that more funding will come, either through additional appropriations from the legislature of existing CARES Act allocations, new federal funding through bills currently being considered or a combination of both,” ORS Media Relations Manager Ron Aiken said. “The good thing, this initial funding does put shovels in the ground immediately to begin the work that state and national leaders have agreed is the most significant infrastructure need our state, and country, faces.”
The projects are set to be completed by mid-December.