South Carolina dishes $112M in broadband funding to local ISPs

South Carolina’s broadband office this week awarded around $112.3 million in grants to eight ISPs, most of which are local cooperatives. The awardees are tasked with delivering internet to over 16,000 locations statewide.

The money, made available via South Carolina’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF), went to 17 projects. According to the state’s map of grant awards, Comporium received the bulk of the funding – roughly $52 million.

Per its website, Comporium serves both North and South Carolina in areas surrounding Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Lancaster, Lexington, Tega Cay, Indian Land, Charlotte, and Brevard.

Other grant winners were WC Fiber, Carolina Connect Cooperative, Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Home Telephone Company, Horry Telephone Cooperative, Palmetto Telephone Communications and Sandhill Telephone Cooperative.

In addition to South Carolina’s $112.3 million investment, providers are contributing approximately $49.8 million in matching funds. The state is requiring all CPF-funded projects to be complete by December 29, 2025.

“We are incredibly excited about this first phase of CPF investments in South Carolina,” said South Carolina Broadband Director Jim Stritzinger in a statement. “In early 2024, we anticipate completing our CPF decisions and gearing up for the final set of ARPA investments.”

Interestingly, no big-name ISPs received awards in this funding round. But last February, AT&T, Comcast, Charter and Brightspeed were among the ISPs that collectively won $132.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

The southeast U.S. seems to be a proving ground for fiber manufacturers. India-based vendor STL in September opened its first U.S. fiber optic plant in Lugoff, South Carolina. CommScope and Corning have also stood up new facilities in North Carolina.

South Carolina scored $551.5 million in Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) funding. Like all states, it must submit an initial proposal to the NTIA detailing how it plans to run its grant program.

The NTIA in October launched a public dashboard, updated weekly, that shows how each state is progressing with its initial proposal.