A portion of the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) was allocated for broadband infrastructure. Expansion of broadband infrastructure emphasized services to rural communities and communities with a high prevalence of COVID-19 or with demographic characteristics consistent with risk factors for COVID-19. Reimbursable expenditures for infrastructure expansion were necessary for the COVID-19 public health emergency and helped to increase capacity for distance learning, telework, or telehealth.
The ORS accepted applications through August 14, 2020. Overall, 78 applications received over $26.4 million for the expansion of broadband infrastructure in South Carolina.
Broadband Infrastructure Program Success
Fourteen companies completed projects to expand broadband infrastructure. More information on each company’s project(s) will be shared below:
- Aiken Electric Cooperative, Inc. (PDF)
- Comporium (PDF)
- Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (PDF)
- Hargray, Inc. (PDF)
- Home Telecom (PDF)
- Horry Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (PDF)
- Lynches River Electric Cooperative, Inc. (PDF)
- Newberry Electric Cooperative, Inc (PDF)
- OneTone Telecom, Inc. (PDF)
- Orangeburg, County of (PDF)
- Sandhill Telephone Cooperative. Inc. (PDF)
- Spectrum (PDF)
- TruVista Communications, Inc. (PDF)
- WC Fiber, LLC. (PDF)
Areas of Need
The ORS engaged Revolution D, Inc. to identify areas of the state that are unserved, impacted by COVID-19, and that if broadband were available, would support distance learning, telehealth, and/or teleworking.
Revolution D identified approximately 550 areas (PDF) as having a substantial need for broadband improvement. Of those, approximately 150 areas are designated as priority areas (Priority Program Targets). These priority areas were established based on demographic, socioeconomic, and other attributes (e.g., low-moderate income communities). Program Targets and Priority Program Targets are also available in a list format (.xls) and an Esri-compatible shape file format zip file for GIS-trained technical users.
- Detailed Program Targets Map (PDF)
- Program Targets and Priority Program Targets List (.xls)
- Program Targets GIS Shape File
Allendale Broadband Pilot Project
To advance deployment of broadband to unserved areas during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ORS partnered with SCETV, South Carolina Department of Education, University of South Carolina (USC) Salkehatchie, Allendale County School District, Allendale Hampton Jasper Regional Library, Town of Allendale, SouthernCarolina Alliance, and Revolution D, Inc. to launch a pilot program allowing free Wi-Fi to students and/or the public together with residential broadband service in Allendale County. Project partners worked with Palmetto Rural Telephone Cooperative to get fiber backhaul and Dominion Energy to get electricity to the SCETV towers located in Allendale County. Equipment was installed on the towers that will provide residents with fixed wireless (citizen broadband radio service) access to broadband service.
Act 142 Projects
The Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Appropriations Act allows for broadband infrastructure projects, including those that were approved for funding pursuant to Act 142 of 2020, but not constructed by December of 2020, to be completed through the Broadband Infrastructure Program.