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More money coming for people in rural areas without internet

The state broadband office claims to have provided access to 100,000 rural homes in the past year.

EASTOVER, S.C. — Officials say South Carolina is making progress on expanding rural broadband access. 

According to state leaders, the plan is to distribute another $180 million by the end of the year to get more internet access to homes in rural areas. 

The $180 million is part of a larger pot of money from four different federal programs totaling $490 million. The programs include Coronavirus Aid Relief, CARES II, Rural Broadband Grant, and Act 244 Gov. McMaster signed back in May. 

On Monday, the South Carolina Broadband Office gave an update on its work towards better internet access. 

“We’ve created internet access for 100 thousand homes in south Carolina and it’s happened in one year since we opened the broadband office. So, it’s pretty amazing,” the office president said. 

Eastover, in Richland County, is an area that had limited broadband before the expansion launched last year.

“It was very spotty, very difficult to get any kind of service out here,” Russell Floyd, an Eastover resident said.

He said he didn't get access to affordable internet until November of last year. His service came from one of the electric co-ops. 

“We got it good now with fiber-optic cable," he said.

The broadband office plans to do the same in other rural areas still in the cyberdark. 

“Providing internet access we call is just the first step of the equation to actually help residents and citizens sign up for service is what we call adoption there’s a lot of work to be done there,” the broadband office president said. 

The first step towards more accessibility in the state is spending $180 million by December of this year. The next step is signing customers up for service.

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