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Thousands of South Carolinians will soon have access to high speed internet

181,715 households in South Carolina currently do not have high speed internet.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — According to the State Broadband Office, 181,715 households in South Carolina currently do not have broadband internet. 

Though several programs throughout the state are currently working to close the digital divide. 

Prosperity resident Terrell Aultman remembers getting high speed internet like it was yesterday. it was just two years ago. 

"Oh it was awesome to have internet in my home, to be able to use my tablet, my phone, I’m able to get rid of my home phone," said Aultman.

It is thanks to Lexington based Nonprofit Carolina Connect.

The organization partners with Electric cooperatives in four counties to bring internet to homes in a similar way to how they get electricity. 

"They come in, and they put their fiber right below neutral," said CEO Glenn Martin

Martin Tells News 19 the company serves nearly 20,000 households and counting. 

"We're putting in about 5,000 a year. So as our Electric Co-Ops build out, we're providing internet to their, to their members," said Martin. 

Even more Households in South Carolina will get access to Broadband Internet. 

In May, state lawmakers and Gov. Henry McMaster approved $400 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to the South Carolina Broadband Office for broadband infrastructure. 

RELATED: 'A godsend': Broadband service coming to Springfield

"Getting digital infrastructure correct in South Carolina allows us to do a lot of really cool things," said Stritzinger. "It's the platform for doing telehealth, it's the platform for changing our economy, it's the platform for recruiting businesses from California. All of those good things."

Stritzinger said the office just opened the application window for $215 million in grants from the State Fiscal Recovery Funds. He said his office hopes to start awarding $180 million in grants to eligible internet service providers later this year. 

About 50,000 households will have access to high speed internet by January 2023.

"It takes an investment first to start internet flowing into a community. And those projects can take up to two years to build," said Stritzinger. 

Lower-Income Households may be eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides a $30 a month discount on high speed internet. You can check with your service provider to find out if you are eligible. 

RELATED: The FCC wants to change the definition of 'high-speed' internet

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