South Carolina Completes $400M ARPA Allocations

The money will fund infrastructure projects that will connect over 112,300 addresses in the state.

South Carolina Completes $400M ARPA Allocations
Photo of Director of SCBBO Jim Stritzinger

July 3, 2024 – The South Carolina Broadband Office announced on Tuesday that the conclusion of the American Rescue Plan Act’s State Local Fiscal Recovery Fund grant program resulted in a total commitment of  $400 million to provide high-speed internet access to over 112,300 unserved or underserved addresses.

The ARPA SLFRF 3.0 grant program is a competitive funding opportunity under the ARPA Act that supports states response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many states chose to use these awards to fund the expansion of high-speed internet networks across the state. South Carolina used less than one percent of its money for projects other than broadband infrastructure.

SCBBO initiated the ARPA SLFRF 3.0 grant program in May 2022. The office signed the final agreement on Tuesday morning, awarding a total of $43,333,179 to twelve different internet service providers across 23 projects in 30 counties.

These projects will lay approximately 1,684 miles of fiber and connect 21,000 broadband service locations. With private-sector matching, the total investment amounts to over $82,504,557.

Gov. Henry McMaster and the SC General Assembly gave the SCBBO specific direction to ARPA funds to support broadband resources as quickly and efficiently as possible, said Andrew Bateman, acting executive director of the SC Office of Regulatory Staff. “The completion of ARPA fund deployment demonstrates the agency’s innovative and effective approach to making broadband resources work for all South Carolinians.” 

In addition to the ARPA funds, SCBBO requires all ISPs to propose and commit to affordable monthly rates ranging from $29.95 to $85.00 at minimum speeds of 100/20 Mbps. Moreover, many grant recipients have committed to providing free Wi-Fi in specific areas and offering digital skills training.

“With an expert team, we’ve moved quickly, and with great precision, as we’ve deployed every dollar of ARPA funding,” said Jim Stritzinger, director of the SCBBO. 

In March 2024, the South Carolina State Broadband Office announced its intention to address a major deficiency in middle-mile fiber transport networks in rural areas of the state. The office plans to prioritize the use of any available BEAD funds for non-deployment purposes to tackle this critical issue.

“At present, it is difficult for the SCBBO to project the amount of BEAD resources which will be available for allowable nondeployment activities,” notes the state’s draft plan, adding that another priority is to extend broadband infrastructure to every unserved and underserved community anchor institution lacking access to gigabit symmetrical connectivity.

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