South Carolina offers first fix to broadband problem for families in need. But it’s only temporary
An estimated 650,000 South Carolinians don’t have high-speed internet access, making it nearly impossible go to a virtual class. So, as a temporary fix for that problem, schools have requested the state pay for internet access for 57,000 households for the upcoming school year mostly through mobile hotspots. Those requests are expected to increase as the academic year nears and parents decide whether to send their students to school for in-person instruction. The COVID-19 pandemic is shining a light on the lack of broadband access in some areas, especially rural communities. Students need reliable and fast broadband to take classes online in virtual classrooms, and patients need it to attend telehealth visits. State officials are using $50 million in federal COVID-19 relief money to provide access to the internet and expand broadband access around the state. However, federal lawmakers say more is needed and are proposing spending billions of dollars to expand broadband across the country. While lawmakers are looking at ways to expand broadband service access for the long term, the Office of Regulatory Staff is working on short-term solutions aimed at helping students take their classes virtually. ORS is prepared to buy as many as 150,000 mobile hotspots for students in kindergarten through 12th grade as well as for technical school and college students whose families meet certain income requirements.
SC offers first fix to broadband problem for families in need. But it’s only temporary