The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF) has awarded $185 million to the state of South Carolina for projects that are expected to bring broadband to over 31,000 unserved and underserved homes and businesses in the state.
The addresses represent about 23% of locations in the state that lack high-speed access. It will fund the Next Greatest Thing – Main Street South Carolina (MAIN ST) grant program, which brings broadband to town centers and nearby residential neighborhoods.
The CPF has a budget of $10 billion to award to states, territories, freely associated states and Tribal governments to fund a range of capital projects, including broadband. While some states are only using a portion of their CPF funds for broadband, South Carolina opted to use its entire allocation for broadband.
As Treasury notes in a press release, many governments also are contributing parts of their State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) to broadband. Both CPF and SLFRF originated in the American Rescue Plan.
Each state CPF plan requires providers to participle in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides broadband a $30 per month for broadband connections. The discount is $75 on Tribal Homelands. This, combined with a commitment from 20 broadband covering more than 80% of the of the U.S. population to cap broadband charges at $30 per month, means that large amounts of people will get service for free.
“The pandemic upended life as we knew it and exposed the stark inequity in access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet in communities across the country, including rural, Tribal, and other underrepresented communities,” Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a press release about the South Carolina Capital Projects Fund awards. The funding, he said, is a key piece of the nation’s historic investments to “increase access to high-speed internet for millions of Americans and provide more opportunities to fully participate and compete in the 21st century economy.”
To date, 34 states have been approved for CPF funding for broadband totaling about $5 billion that will bring service to more than 1.4 million locations.