Governor McMaster Congressman Clyburn announce “GetConnectSC” campaign
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Governor Henry McMaster and Congressman James E. Clyburn announced the adoption of a new campaign involving high-speed internet access.
According to a press release, the campaign is designed to identify the areas of greatest need in the state, invest in broadband infrastructure to those areas and provide support services to make transformation possible.
The campaign was announced on Tuesday by both McMaster and Clyburn, joined by officials from the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff’s (ORS) Broadband Office (SCBBO) and the South Carolina Department of Administration’s (Admin) Digital Equity Office (SCDEO).
“We recognize having fiber cable does not improve your life unless you can afford the monthly service, have a working device and know how to use the technology,” said Mike Shealy, director of Admin’s newly formed S.C. Digital Equity Office, “We are excited to work alongside elected officials, other state agencies and local organization to help people adopt and use high-speed internet service.”
In addition to a new website (www.GetConnectedSC.org), the bi-partisan “GetConnectedSC” campaign includes a 26-community listening tour and a “Better-Internet” Survey designed to capture the barriers to internet adoption of unserved, underserved and underrepresented communities statewide.
“The creation of the GetConnectedSC campaign is the next logical step as we work to roll out high-speed internet statewide,” said Jim Stritzinger, director of the S.C. Broadband Office, “We have a lot of momentum deploying infrastructure; however, that is just the first step. We need to help residents with affordability and the attainment of digital skills too. That’s where the SCDEO comes in.”
Officials say that information gathered from the survey will shape a Five-year Broadband Plan for the state to ensure better internet in S.C. The campaign is part of a nationwide effort to improve broadband access.
“Providing access to reliable, high-speed internet is one of the most important things we can do to ensure the prosperity of our rural communities in S.C.,” said McMaster, “In order to fully take advantage of the opportunity available to us, we need South Carolinians to participate in this survey process.”
According to the press release, congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) which included $65 billion for the deployment of broadband infrastructure development and digital inclusion efforts across the country in 2021.
As a required first step in the deployment of the funds, South Carolina was granted planning funds for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) and Digital Equity (DE) programs planning which lead to additional grants.
The BEAD and DE planning processes extend through the summer of 2023 and culminate with the formal submission of the state’s Five-Year Broadband and Digital Equity Plans to the federal government in August.
A minimum of $100 million in additional funds for the BEAD program and tens of millions for the DE program will be made available to the state to continue investment in broadband infrastructure and adoption statewide once the South Carolina Five-Year plan is approved.
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