COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Broadband Office (SCBBO) is pleased to announce the creation of an approximate $100 million grant program based upon the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Capital Projects Fund (CPF).
Designated as ARPA CPF 1.0, this new program is the fourth major tranche of South Carolina broadband investments. It maintains priority focus on unserved census blocks 1) with large numbers of K-12 students or 2) that are in difficult development areas or 3) that are without an Internet Service Provider (ISP). In addition, ARPA CPF 1.0 introduces a priority focus on remaining unserved Main Street communities.
The ARPA CPF 1.0 Project Plan, which was recently approved by the US Treasury, requires the highest federal construction standards at 100 Mbps symmetric service (100 Mbps download / 100 Mbps upload) throughout all funded areas. The SCBBO will take applications for ARPA CPF 1.0 from May 15 to July 15, 2023, and final awards are planned for announcement in November 2023. A preliminary Eligibility Map that reflects all known unserved Broadband Serviceable Locations (BSLs) was made available to eligible ISPs on May 1, 2023, so that they may challenge designations.
“With the support of Governor McMaster, the South Carolina General Assembly, and a strong partnership with the US Treasury, the CPF allows us to continue our rapid expansion of broadband statewide,” said Jim Stritzinger, Director of the SCBBO. “Together with this additional funding, the SCBBO has mapped the state – for the first time ever – with location-level precision (BSL). This means that more homes and businesses will be more accurately characterized as unserved and be eligible for CPF investment.”
In addition to launching the new grant round, the SCBBO is pleased to share the final summary from the ARPA SLFRF (State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds) 1.0 grant program. Subsequent to our February 2023 announcement, several projects were cancelled due to overlapping infrastructure build, and others were approved due to corrections in provider-reported data. Therefore, in total, ARPA SLFRF 1.0 resulted in 61 project investments, and the SCBBO committed $154,574,520 to 15 different ISPs in 34 counties. The total budget for the work is $286,213,157, which reflects an overall match rate of 46% non-ARPA funds from other federal and/or private investment, in addition to the ARPA funds provided through the SCBBO. All ARPA SLFRF 1.0 projects will be complete by December 31, 2024.
When ARPA SLFRF 1.0 concludes, ISPs in South Carolina will have provided access to 21 additional municipalities, constructed approximately 5,600 miles of fiber, and provided high-speed internet access for 43,582 locations (including homes, businesses, and other facilities). Please visit the funding map and the list of projects for more detailed information. All other broadband mapping information is located on scdigitaldrive.org.
The SCBBO is housed within the state’s Office of Regulatory Staff. It serves as the central broadband planning body to coordinate with federal, state, regional, local, and private entities, to the extent practicable, to engage in the continued deployment of broadband in the state.