EXPANDING BROADBAND ACCESS: Gov. McMaster, Rep. Clyburn announce investment in state’s Internet infrastructure
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — According to the South Carolina Broadband Office, more than 5 percent of the state lacks internet access at home.
In the year since the broadband office has been around, 100,000 more households in the state have received internet access.
“This is an effort we have realized was vital to the future and prosperity of our people,” said Gov. Henry McMaster at the statehouse Monday.
The importance of having high-speed internet was something Congressman Jim Clyburn noticed during the pandemic when his grandchildren were learning from home.
“Their classmates were not fine. Some of them lost a year of school because they could not pass proficiency exams to go on to the next grade. That should not be,” said Rep. Clyburn.
To help everyone in the Palmetto State have broadband internet access, the state is investing almost half a billion dollars into the necessary infrastructure.
“Many are going straight away to fiber infrastructure. This will equip them well for the future,” said Jim Stritzinger, South Carolina Broadband Office director.
Making internet access available in an area is just the beginning.
“Providing internet access is just the first step of the equation. Helping residents actually sign up for service is called adoption,” Stritzinger said. “There’s a lot of work there. Internet service is expensive.”
“We also put in the infrastructure bill money to make it affordable, not just accessible,” Clyburn said.
A federal grant program provides a 30 dollar a month subsidy to people who need help affording internet access.
The South Carolina Broadband Office has mapped the state’s connectivity so that it knows which areas still need internet access.
“The broadband office models, maps and plans. We are using these scarce dollars most efficiently. We only want to put infrastructure where it needs to go,” said Nanette Edwards, South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff director.
Those with the state’s broadband office estimate that it will take about 4 years until everyone in South Carolina has access to the Internet from home.
“We know that we have terrible people. What we have to do is provide them with safety, health and education so there will be no stopping South Carolina,” McMaster said.
One of the programs invests in 14 of the state’s neediest counties when it comes to internet access.