South Carolina’s congressional delegation exhorted U.S. House and Senate leadership in a letter to help expand affordable broadband access via future stimulus funding.
The letter said that 18 million Americans, particularly in rural areas, lack broadband internet access, according to U.S. Federal Communications Commission data. The new coronavirus has underscored the need, it said.
“In pursuing the goal of affordable access to high-speed internet nationwide, we are advocating for an innovative approach that addresses access, affordability, and adoption to help bridge the broadband gap as expeditiously as possible,” said the letter, which was signed by both senators and all seven members of Congress. “This virus has created an added urgency in ensuring our citizens have the necessary resources needed to adapt to our current circumstances.”
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the letter underscored that limited broadband access created an educational and public health divide across the country and advocated for funding toward infrastructure projects like Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative’s CarolinaConnect fiber-optic broadband network.
The delegation also pointed to success stories in South Carolina such as support for federal investment in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service, resulting in $27 million in grants for high-speed internet infrastructure in Orangeburg, Kershaw, Berkeley and Charleston counties.
“These funds will bring critical access to thousands of households, from farmers needing to connect to new markets to students needing to engage in remote learning,” the letter said.p