Comcast, AT&T bag big wins as S. Carolina awards $133M for broadband

AT&T, Comcast, Charter and Brightspeed were among 15 internet service providers to take home grant money as the state of South Carolina awarded $132.8 million to expand broadband access there.

The grant money covers projects in 33 counties and will see the awardees collectively reach at least 39,606 locations over the next two years. Including matching funds from the operators, the total broadband investment supported by the funding round is expected to amount to nearly $256.8 million.

West Carolina Rural Telephone Cooperative was the top winner in the grant round, taking home nearly $27.4 million to reach 8,342 locations in five counties. Comcast bagged the second highest total, getting $19.1 million to connect 2,948 locations in three counties. TruVista Communications, a local ISP in the state, received $16.3 million for 3,778 passings in three counties.

AT&T’s award totaled $13.3 million for projects in two counties which will see it reach 2,218 locations. The operator said a build in Greenville County, for which it was awarded $10.4 million, is expected to have a total value of $12.3 million and cover a total of nearly 2,500 customers. Its other build in Charleston County, which is supported by a $2.9 million grant, will cost an estimated $10.5 million and reach almost 6,900 customers.

All told, AT&T said in a press release it expects to deliver fiber service to more than 9,000 locations with help from the grants. The operator already covers more than 400,000 passings in the state.

It's worth noting cooperatives made up a large portion of the grant winners. Other awardees included Palmetto Rural Telephone Cooperative ($12.6 million), Farmers Telephone Cooperative ($12 million), Open Broadband ($6.9 million), Comporium ($6.9 million), Charter Communications ($4.1 million), Sandhill Telephone Cooperative ($4 million), Tri-County Electric Cooperative ($3.5 million), Home Telephone ($3.3 million), Carolina Connect ($1.7 million), Brightspeed ($939,774) and Lynches River Electric Cooperative ($872,612).

All grant projects must be completed by December 31, 2024. Once done, they are expected to reduce the number of unserved homes in the state to just 74,000.