The US Department of Agriculture is investing $7.5 million in broadband in South Carolina through the second round of the ReConnect program. The USDA ReConnect South Carolina award will go to OneTone Telecommunications, which will use the funding to deploy a FTTP network connecting 12,938 people, 29 businesses and three educational facilities in Anderson and Oconee counties.
The investment will be in the form of a loan, according to the USDA. The funding will be used for unserved and underserved areas within the footprint.
Several awards were made in South Carolina during the first phase of the ReConnect program:
- In February, TruVista Communications received a grant of $9.1 million to deploy 257 miles of fiber to unserved areas of Kershaw County. The 81-square-mile area includes 6,251 households, 24 farms, 15 business, four critical community facilities, three educational facilities and a health care center.
- In December, 2019, Home Telecom was granted $8.1 million in funding to deploy 96 miles of fiber cable to unserved areas of Charleston and Berkeley counties. The project will reach 3,780 homes, 23 farms, 19 businesses, 19 educational facilities and eight fire stations.
- In October, 2019, another USDA ReConnect South Carolina award went to Home Telecom, which was awarded a $9.75 million ReConnect grant to make broadband available to 3,911 households, 21 farms, 17 rural businesses, 13 educational facilities, nine critical community facilities and a health care center.
In all, the second round of the ReConnect program generated 172 applications totaling $1.57 billion, which are competing for $550 million in available funding. The first round resulted in an announced investment of $698 million to provide services to about 167,000 households, 17,000 rural small businesses and farms and more than 500 health care centers, educational facilities and critical community facilities in 33 states.
The ReConnect program also is infusing money in broadband through $100 million included in the CARES Act, which was passed in March to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.