The digital internet deserts in Aiken and surrounding counties will soon be delivered a broadband oasis – a hopeful signal to all rural South Carolina that help is on the way.
Aiken Electric Coop Steps In Where Many Other Providers Won’t
Aiken Electric Cooperative has announced it is partnering with CarolinaConnect, a Lexington fiber-optic internet service provider, to deliver affordable high-speed internet across its territory.
The lack of internet service throughout rural South Carolina, particularly the House District I serve, is the #1 issue (complaint) for most folks. Without a reliable, high-speed internet connection, families and businesses are left behind. This announcement is a life preserver for those wanting to connect to communicate, educate, do business, receive telehealth services and gain from all the advantages offered by high-speed internet, including a Wi-Fi connection for their cell phones that also lack adequate service.
Rural digital deserts are not exclusive to South Carolina. The Pew Research Center reports that about 73% of American adults have a home broadband connection. However, only 63% of rural Americans have broadband internet access. That’s 12% below urban Americans and 16% below suburban Americans.
The lack of broadband service to rural areas is understandable because of the expense of installing fiber optics in sparsely populated areas instead of urban areas with many more customers.
Grant monies fund the first phase of this effort to expand access to a modern fiber-to-the-home network. Due to the grant requirements, service will first be available to Aiken Coop members in the Wagener-Perry-Salley area as early as this summer. After completing this first phase, service will become available to unserved and underserved members on a substation-by-substation basis over several years. A more detailed schedule of the projected network build-out is in development.
“Just as we did more than 80 years ago in bringing electricity to our rural communities, today we are bringing a much-needed service to our members,” said Gary Stooksbury, CEO of Aiken Electric.
“We believe providing exceptional broadband access is consistent with our mission of empowering our local communities and enhancing our members’ quality of life. Access to high-speed broadband will enable members’ greater access to education, technology, conferencing, and many other opportunities given the challenges brought about by COVID-19.”
Want to Know More?
The Aiken Coop is a member-owned utility that serves nearly 50,000 customers in a nine-county area. For more information about Aiken Electric Coop’s and CarolinaConnect’s internet offerings, or to receive alerts when service is available in your area, visit https://www.carolinaconnect.com and join the list.
Picture of the Week
Proud to stand with the dedicated volunteers of the New Holland VFD during their annual dinner. These are real PUBLIC SERVANTS who risk their lives at all hours to protect their rural community. New Holland excels — 18 new firefighters this past year and they answered nearly 300 emergency calls. BRAVO!
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