51k more in SC could have access to high-speed internet by the end of 2022

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — Millions of federal, state and local dollars are being used for broadband expansion in South Carolina.

The state and Internet service providers have spent the past two years working to close the digital divide in South Carolina.

Currently, the South Carolina Broadband Office of the Office of Regulatory Staff estimates that there are approximately 181,715 households in South Carolina without access to high-speed Internet.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), high-speed internet is 25 Mbps or higher for download and 3 Mbps for upload speed.

Jim Stritzinger, director of the South Carolina Broadband Office, said that by the end of this year, the number of unused homes in South Carolina will drop to 157,103. Estimates from the state’s Broadband Office show that by January 2023, an additional 51,000 South Carolina residents will have access to high-speed Internet in their homes.

More broadband projects in South Carolina could be in the works soon.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers and the governor signed the $400 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation to the SC Broadband Office for “broadband infrastructure.”

Stritzinger said his agency hopes to begin awarding $180 million in grants to eligible Internet service providers later this year.

“Making an investment is just the first part,” he said. “Broadband takes a while to actually complete the build, but until you make an investment, nothing improves. We are moving the needle.”

Stritzinger said they have been working closely with providers to map areas in South Carolina. He said providers are navigating a “complicated” supply chain as other states expand broadband access as well.

The Office of Regulatory Staff also takes input from South Carolinians on which parts of the state are not served.

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