High-speed internet coming to unserved & underserved areas of Anderson Co.

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ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – Unserved and underserved areas of Anderson County are one step closer to having high-speed internet service.

Upcountry Fiber has been chosen to get the project underway.

“What we did today was publicly announced a partnership that we have created with Blue Ridge Electric and WC Telephone Company, and they have formed a joint venture called Upcountry Fiber and we put out a request for proposal and they were selected to be a partner with Anderson County,” said Rusty Burns, Anderson County Administrator. “So, this was to let the public know, that A, that agreement is in place, and B, that we have completed a map of Anderson County that shows where we need to be.”

“What we’ve done is position ourselves, grant funds that are going to be coming from the federal government and the state government,” Burns said. “We’ve already done our plan. We know where we want to go. We created this partnership and so as soon as we get money, we are in essence in a position to plug and play.”

Some people in Anderson County have been fighting a cyberspace battle.

Raegan Young owns Mama Rae’s Ice Cream Shoppe in Pendleton. She has seen the problem firsthand, since nearly everything on her property is run off the internet.

“It’s really slow. There’s very few options for what you can get, and even if you got the highest speed package, it doesn’t give you the highest speed,” Young said.

“As a business owner especially, you know we do everything online. Our square is run off the internet, our music streams,” she said. “So it will slow it down to not just a crawl, but like where we can’t use square device.”

“If it comes to where we can’t run our cash register then we have to say, do you mind getting offline because we can’t operate the business, which is awful,” Young said.

Soon, Upcountry Fiber will install 300 miles of fiber underground.

Jim Lovinggood, President and CEO of Blue Ridge Electric Co-op said construction is planned to start in the next couple of weeks.

“So, we have our first project is planned to actually start construction with fiber, and that will be over in the Pendleton/La France area,” said Jim Lovinggood, President & CEO Blue Ridge Electric Co-op. “We got two additional projects that are designed and we’re looking forward to getting those constructed this year as well.”

Lovinggood said the second project will be in the Piercetown area and should start in late spring.

“Then a third fiber project is slated for construction and that will be in the Townville area, and the plan right now is to start sometime in late summer,” Lovinggood said. “So when we complete those three projects that will be about 300 miles of fiber that we would have built.”

Lovinggood said the total investment from those projects will be around $15 million and will connect between 6,000 and 7,000 locations.

A press release said this is a part of its existing broadband rollout strategy.

In the future, Upcountry Fiber plans to bring more than 2,800 miles of high-speed fiber internet access to unserved and underserved parts of the county.

“Well, because of COVID, it exposed a lot of weaknesses that we have,” Burns said. “We had schools that actually had to put hotspots on school buses. We had people congregating at public libraries, sitting out in their cars doing homework.

“Hopefully we will have everybody in Anderson County at least have the opportunity or the ability to access the service, because this service now, is just the same as electricity, water and sewer,” Burns said. “Companies aren’t going to go places where there’s no broadband.

“People don’t won’t to live in places that don’t have broadband,” Burns said.

“We have several places in the rural part of the county that really need internet access,” said Burns.

According to Burns, those areas include Townville, Slabtown, areas between Belton and Honea Path, and areas between Powdersville and Pendleton.

“Those are some areas, but I mean, we have pockets all across the county. So, it’s really some in the north and some in the south,” Burns said.

“It’s exciting to know that we’re going to have options,” Young said.

Since it’s launch in June 2021, Upcountry Fiber has completed more than 300 miles of fiber in Pickens and Oconee Counties, the company said.

Upcountry Fiber is now serving 1,200 households, businesses, and schools in those counties with another 2,100 orders placed.

Source

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