Dorchester Co., ISPs investing over $17M to expand broadband internet in rural areas

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 10:11 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2022 at 10:33 AM EDT
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DORCHESTER COUNTY S.C. (WCSC) - Thousands of people in the rural parts of Dorchester County who either have slow internet or no coverage at all could soon be getting access to broadband internet starting as early as this year.

Deputy County Administrator Daniel Prentice said the county is focusing on 11 areas in this project, which covers around 4,000 homes and businesses and gigabit internet speeds will be the fastest offered.

Prentice said the county is spending around $8.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds. That is being matched by HomeTelecom and PRTC, two internet service providers in the area, for a total investment of $17.1 million.

Prentice said during the pandemic, county leaders saw children suffer from learning loss and employees struggling to work from home because they could not access the internet.

It is also set to help businesses. Audrea Tuttle, the office manager of Shuman Foods near Reevesville, said spotty internet service hurts their business.

“It would be wonderful to have a reliable internet source as we deal with losing our internet constantly,” she said. “When we do lose our internet, we have upset customers. We have to shut down our store for hours at a time, and here recently, in the past six months, it seems to be happening a whole lot. It is very aggravating sometimes, and you just don’t know what to do. You don’t know what to tell people.”

Right now, the work is happening in Reevesville, where they have laid more than 11 miles of cable. That part of the project is expected to be finished later this year.

The county is holding a meeting on Aug. 31 at the Woodland High School gym to give an update on the overall project.

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