NEWS: Researchers looking for ways to broaden broadband

Connect SC’s Jim Stritzinger discussed broadband access during a 2016 meeting in the Promise Zone.

A recent story in The (Charleston) Post and Courier highlighted efforts in the S.C. Promise Zone to improve Internet access throughout the rural region of the state.

An excerpt:

So in 2015, when the federal government designated six counties along the Savannah River a high-poverty “promise zone” that gets special status in grant programs, internet access came up often at community meetings as a problem residents wanted to tackle.

Better broadband was up there with cleaning up crime, improving education and getting easier access to health care, said Dean Van Pelt, promise zone coordinator. So the group is setting out to improve internet access.

Step one: Figure out who doesn’t have internet service and why they haven’t signed up. Jim Stritzinger, director of Connect South Carolina, says there’s not a simple answer to those questions.

In many cases, it’s an issue of physical infrastructure, a lack of cables laid across a thinly populated region. But the price of service is an issue, too, especially in an area with relatively high unemployment and poverty. The cost of buying a computer and the sluggishness of service are also factors.

That’s an issue across South Carolina, says Stritzinger, who calls internet access “our generation’s fresh water.”

“You don’t have to go very far off of I-26 to have very, very different telecommunications capabilities. And this is true pretty much across the state,” Stritzinger said. “You go really 10 miles off the interstate on either side, and you can be in places where it’s hard to receive cellphone service. You can be in certain neighborhoods where the internet is not available to you.”

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4/20: USDA seeks applications for $11.7 million in broadband grants for rural communities

USDA LogoWASHINGTON, D.C. – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA is soliciting applications for grants to establish broadband in unserved rural communities through its Community Connect program. Community Connect is administered by USDA’s Rural Utilities Service and helps to fund broadband deployment into rural communities where it is not economically viable for private sector providers to provide service.

“Through Community Connect and our other telecommunications programs, USDA helps to ensure that rural residents have access to broadband to run businesses, get the most from their education and benefit from the infinite services that fast, reliable broadband provides,” Vilsack said. “USDA is committed to supporting America’s rural communities through targeted investments in our bioeconomy and renewable energy, local and regional food systems, conservation initiatives and rural development.” Read more

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NEWS: Officials work to secure better broadband Internet


Jim Stritzinger of Connect SC highlights how area telecommunications companies are installing higher speed networks now.

More than 30 local, state, federal and corporate officials met this month to discuss how to develop more broadband Internet access and service throughout the six counties of the S.C. Lowcountry Promise Zone.

A March 30 news story  at highlighted the all-day workshop held in Barnwell to develop pathways for high-speed broadband networks that are among the top strategic goals for economic and community development by the Promise Zone.  An excerpt: Read more

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Federal officials, others to meet Wednesday on rural broadband

Barnwell meeting will focus on opportunities, projects for faster speeds

16.0321.internetMultiple federal agencies charged with improving broadband services in rural areas will present information at an all-day Wednesday conference in Barnwell. It will federal resources, funding, technical assistance, best practices and more.

One of the top four, transformational goals of the S.C. Lowcountry Promise Zone, a six-county area of focus for strategies to reduce persistent poverty, is to develop “high speed broadband Internet networks to provide access to citizens and to help make the region more attractive to business growth.” Read more about the plan, which was unveiled earlier this month. Read more

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