Rural areas of SC expected to have high-speed internet access in 2022

All projects are expected to be completed by October of next year.

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina – Aiken Electric Cooperative is one of 18 statewide internet service providers working on a $ 30 million project to expand broadband availability in 19 rural South Carolina counties.

“For $ 49.95, they will be able to enjoy a download and upload speed of 350 MPS,” said Gary L. Stooksbury, CEO of Aiken Electric Cooperative. “It will be like they’re in downtown Columbia.”

They are one of six Internet service providers in Orangeburg County. The county got $ 7 million on its own. The CEO of Aiken Electric said they would focus on serving their customers in western Orangeburg County, including Springfield, North and along Highway Three.

“We are in the process of expanding broadband internet and it will be fiber optic to homes in this area,” said Stooksbury. “We are setting up a 288 fiber backbone that we are building in our northern region in Orangeburg County that will be able to support our house project.”

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The decision to expand broadband comes from the South Carolina Department of Commerce, which donated $ 65 million to help with economic development and other improvements in eligible counties identified by the state legislature. The counties were chosen based on population decline and poverty rate.

The first reports of broadband construction are due to the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Personnel (ORS) by October 15, 2021, and all projects are expected to be completed by October of next year.

“I can assure you that we are working on the project as we speak, and it is a priority,” Stooksbury said. “We will be done because we have so much more to do. We will have this months ahead of schedule.”

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