Serving the underserved

Our work continues

 

This past spring, we had the honor of participating in press conferences announcing sweeping progress for underserved areas of Anderson, Pickens and Abbeville counties thanks to $44 million in federal grants designated by the South Carolina Broadband Office, or SCBBO. Soon residents in parts of these counties will have access to high-speed fiber internet through our subsidiary WCFIBER and Upcountry Fiber, a partnership between Blue Ridge Electric Co-op and WCFIBER. The grant allows us to continue to fulfill our mission to help bridge the digital divide where little to no internet access exists. An additional $17 million from WCFIBER and Upcountry Fiber will be invested to extend the reach of these projects. Nearly 3,000 Anderson County, 1,400 Pickens County and 125 Abbeville County addresses identified by SCBBO that currently do not have access to broadband internet service are included in the grant. Construction has begun. By the end of 2025, those addresses included in the SCBBO grant, and an additional 17,000 addresses surrounding the areas, will be able to sign up for broadband internet service through either WCFIBER or Upcountry Fiber, depending on their location. Upon completion of construction mainly funded by this grant, WCFIBER and Upcountry Fiber together will have invested approximately $71 million since 2021 in making broadband available to areas that have been previously underserved. The resulting construction of about 3,200 miles of fiber will pass nearly 47,000 eligible addr esses, mainly residential. We are so thankful to Jim Stritzinger and his team in the South Carolina Broadband Office for their efforts to modernize the infrastructure in these underserved communities and entrusting us to be a part of that effort. Their diligence and commitment to bridging the digital divide is not simply their profession, it’s truly a calling. Additionally, county and state officials have advocated strongly for their c ommunities, and we are deeply grateful for their efforts to advance this life-changing technology across South Carolina. Once these projects are completed, no matter where you are within the grant footprints, you can expect to receive exceptional fiber internet service from either WCFIBER or Upcountry Fiber. Utility cooperatives like ours have a long history of serving our neighbors in traditionally underserved areas. These grants not only benefit people in their homes but also mak e it possible for them to have access to better health care, education and job opportunities, which helps to build a better, more competitive community for everyone.