South Carolina Allocates $400M ARPA Funding for High-Speed Internet Access Boost and Broadband Network Expansion

High-speed internet expansion concept

South Carolina Completes $400M ARPA Allocations

July 3, 2024 – South Carolina successfully concluded the American Rescue Plan Act’s State Local Fiscal Recovery Fund grant program, allocating a total of $400 million for the provision of high-speed internet access to over 112,300 underserved addresses.

ARPA SLFRF 3.0 Funding for Broadband Network Expansion

The ARPA SLFRF 3.0 grant program is a competitive funding mechanism designed to facilitate states’ response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the majority of states took advantage of these rewards to finance the extension of high-speed internet networks, the State of South Carolina allocated less than one percent of its funds for projects unrelated to broadband infrastructure.

In May 2022, the South Carolina Broadband Office initiated the ARPA SLFRF 3.0 grant program. The final agreement for awarding a total sum of $43,333,179 to a dozen different internet service providers across 23 projects in 30 counties was signed on Tuesday morning. These projects will lay approximately 1,684 miles of fiber and connect 21,000 broadband service locations. With a private sector matching, the collective investment amounts to over $82,504,557.

Broadband Accessibility and Commitments

Further to the ARPA funds, the South Carolina Broadband Office (SCBBO) mandates all ISPs to propose and commit to affordable monthly rates ranging from $29.95 to $85.00, at minimum speeds of 100/20 Mbps. Numerous grant recipients have committed to providing free Wi-Fi in specific areas and offering digital skills training.

“With an expert team, we’ve moved quickly, and with great precision, as we’ve deployed every dollar of ARPA funding,” stated Jim Stritzinger, the director of the SCBBO.

Addressing Middle-mile Fiber Deficiency

In March 2024, the South Carolina State Broadband Office announced its intention to address a significant deficiency in middle-mile fiber transport networks, particularly in rural areas of the state. The office expressed plans to prioritize the usage of any remaining Broadband Equity Access Deployment Program (BEAD) funds for non-deployment purposes to address this pressing issue.

“At present, it is challenging for the SCBBO to project the amount of BEAD resources which will be available for allowable nondeployment activities,” regards the state’s draft plan. Another priority includes extending broadband infrastructure to every unserved and underserved community anchor institution lacking access to gigabit symmetrical connectivity.

South Carolina Allocates $400M ARPA Funding for High-Speed Internet Access Boost and Broadband Network Expansion

Author: HERE Irmo

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