BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A new partnership will put free internet in some homes with school-age children in the Cross community before the upcoming school year.
Home Telecom and the Berkeley County School District are working together to provide the internet, which is being paid for through a grant from Google. Home Telecom will be making network improvements to provide the free service to houses with children from kindergarten through 12th grades who are attending Cross Elementary and Cross High Schools.
The partnership allows Home Telecom to provide high-speed Internet at a discounted rate with in-home WiFi to 365 addresses identified by the school district as houses which have Cross students in them. The grant from Google will allow Internet service to be provided to these homes at no charge for the 2019-2020 school year.
The school district has begun notifying eligible families to begin the process and the Internet in the homes is expected to be ready by August 2019.
Currently, about 52 percent of the homes in the Cross area which have students also have Internet service.
The Vice President of Marketing at Home Telecom, Gina Shuler, says the CEO of Home Telecom talked with the district about how to provide more internet access to Cross area students.
“Berkeley County School District provides Chromebooks to all of their students so if students go home and they don’t have internet access in their homes they can’t do homework,” Shuler said. “The Chromebook is of no use to them.”
Home Telecom says about 25 percent of people who live in Cross have no service with them at all.
“Not only is it going to help the students with their studies, but it could also help the parent looking for job opportunities so it’s going to be a great benefit,” Shuler said.
Home Telecom has invested more than $1.5 million in network upgrades with another $50,000 planned to provide internet access to about 95 percent of homes in Cross with a K-12 student.
“The process is a little bit more than plugging in a modem,” Shuler said. "If the customer already has internet with us it’s that simple, currently 25 percent of the residents in that area do not have any services with us so we are going to have to construct lines to their homes and it’s going to be a little more of a process.
If you’d like to get internet installed for free at your home and you have school-age children attending Cross Elementary School or Cross High School you can call Home Telecom at 843-761-9101.
Officials with Home Telecom say they will upgrade internet speeds for homes that have internet services slower than 10Mbps with students in the home. Residents who have the desire for higher speeds can upgrade at a discounted price. Also, Home Telecom says if a customer already has internet in Cross they can receive a credit.