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The South Carolina Broadband Office (SCBBO) is pleased to announce 56 newly funded projects through its American Rescue Plan Act, State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Priority 1.0 (ARPA SLFRF 1.0) grant program. For this round of investments, the SCBBO committed $132,799,403 to 15 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in 33 counties. The total project cost for this round of broadband expansion is estimated to be $256,755,322. This amount reflects an overall match rate of 48% non-ARPA funds (other federal and/or private investment), in addition to the ARPA funds provided by the SCBBO.
“We are incredibly excited about this next chapter of broadband expansion in South Carolina,” said Jim Stritzinger, Director of the SC Broadband Office. “Across the state, most have probably noticed the ISP road crews working diligently to provide high-speed internet access to our homes and businesses. This set of investments will provide a substantial boost to the work that is already underway.”
All ARPA SLFRF 1.0 grants are required to be complete by December 31, 2024. When finished, ISPs in South Carolina will have constructed over 5,000 additional miles of fiber and provided high speed internet access for at least 39,606 locations (including homes, business, and other facilities). An interactive map of all SCBBO investments to date, including this new ARPA SLFRF 1.0 grant round, is located online.
As a result, the SCBBO will release the next set of broadband maps in the coming days. Upon release, the official home of South Carolina broadband data – www.scdigitaldrive.org - will contain new maps and statistics for all 46 counties, as well as statewide overview data, including SCBBO analysis of provider-reported broadband construction detail and over 10 million consumer-reported Ookla® Speedtest Intelligence® records.
Of note, the SCBBO is proud to share that the number of unserved homes in South Carolina has been reduced from 221,731 (8.9%, September 2021) to 137,004 (5.5%, September 2022), a reduction of 38.3% year-over-year. As a result of ARPA SLFRF 1.0, and in combination with other known federal and private investments, the SCBBO estimates the number of unserved homes should fall to approximately 74,000 when construction completes in December 2024.
This rapid household construction has also resulted in 153,140 residents and 14,360 public K-12 students being provided high-speed internet access in the same timeframe.
“Since the SCBBO does not directly build any fiber or connect a single home, the credit for this improvement needs to be directed to South Carolina’s extraordinary ISPs,” noted Stritzinger.
More information can be found at ors.sc.gov/broadband.
ABOUT SCBBO: The SCBBO is housed within the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS). 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 infrastructure in the state.