More South Carolinaians will soon have access to high-speed internet

181,715 South Carolina households currently do not have high-speed Internet.

COLUMBIA, SC — According to the State Broadband Office, 181,715 South Carolina households currently do not have broadband Internet.

Although several programs across the state are currently working to close the digital divide.

Affluent resident Terrell Aultman recalls what it was like yesterday that he got superfast internet. it was only two years ago.

“Oh, it’s been great to have the internet in my house, to be able to use my tablet, my phone, I’m able to get rid of my house phone,” Aultman said.

It’s thanks to Lexington-based nonprofit Carolina Connect.

The organization is working with electricity cooperatives in four provinces to bring the internet home in the same way they get electricity.

“They come in and put their fiber right below neutral,” said CEO Glenn Martin

Martin Tells News 19, the company serves nearly 20,000 households and is still counting.

“We put in about 5,000 a year. So as our Electric Co-Ops evolve, we’re providing Internet to them, to their members,” Martin said.

Even more South Carolina households are getting broadband internet access.

In May, state lawmakers and Governor Henry McMaster approved $400 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to the South Carolina Broadband Office for broadband infrastructure.

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“Getting the digital infrastructure in South Carolina right allows us to do a lot of really cool things,” Stritzinger says. “It’s the platform to do telehealth, it’s the platform to change our economy, it’s the platform for recruiting companies from California. All that good stuff.”

Stritzinger said the office just opened the application window for $215 million in grants from the State Fiscal Recovery Funds. He said his office hopes to award $180 million in grants to eligible Internet service providers later this year.

By January 2023, approximately 50,000 households will have access to high-speed internet.

“It takes an investment to get the internet flowing in a community first. And those projects can take up to two years to build,” Stritzinger says.

Lower-income households may qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which offers a $30 per month discount on high-speed internet. You can check with your service provider if you are eligible.

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