Cherokee County, Charter Communications Announce Plan to Expand Rural Broadband Access Countywide

Two-year plan to serve as a model for rural high-speed internet access across the United States

GAFFNEY, S.C., Dec. 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Cherokee County and Charter Communications today announced a public-private partnership that will expand high-speed internet access countywide over the next two years. The plan will serve as a model for expanding rural broadband access across the United States.

Approximately 4,500 locations — residences and small businesses — in Cherokee County lack internet service. The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that access to broadband is critical for telehealth, working from home, completing school assignments, and economic development.

"The future prosperity of South Carolina depends on a proactive approach to providing reliable broadband access to our rural communities," South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said. "Broadband allows our children to stay up to date on their schoolwork, gives businesses the ability to locate in rural communities, and improves our overall quality of life — all of which will bring prosperity to our state. I applaud Charter Communications and Cherokee County for aggressively tackling the underserved areas of their county."

Charter was awarded over $3 million in federal RDOF (Rural Development Opportunity Fund) Phase I dollars to assist in connecting an estimated 3,000 homes and small businesses in Cherokee County to quality, high-speed internet service. These dollars must be used to bring high-speed internet to rural areas — Census blocks that are completely unserved, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

"Broadband is a vital resource for work, learning and personal connection," said Jessica Geremia, Spectrum Area Vice President, Field Operations. "Leveraging RDOF resources, we're building a high-speed, high-capacity network that will bring gigabit internet to thousands of homes and small businesses in Cherokee County — an investment that will ensure families and businesses can participate fully in the digital world, now and well into the future."

To reach unserved areas beyond the RDOF expansion, Cherokee County has contracted with Charter to deploy approximately 173 additional miles of network infrastructure, which will provide service to about 1,466 additional homes and small businesses.

Cherokee County, the Cherokee County School District and the Spartanburg Regional Foundation together will invest $3 million to extend service to these areas, with Charter privately funding the remainder.

Expanding broadband met with overwhelming community support in the county's long-range plan that was unveiled last year.

"Cherokee County residents told us loud and clear that making high-speed internet available countywide was a priority. We heard them," Cherokee County Administrator Steve Bratton said. "New businesses looking to come to an area check to make sure basic infrastructure — including broadband — is in place. Not only will this partnership serve thousands of Cherokee County residents, it will make the county more attractive for economic development."

The expansion project will begin Jan. 1, 2022.

The Cherokee County expansion is synergistic with Charter's larger $5 billion initiative to deliver high-speed internet to approximately one million homes and small businesses across the country.

Jason Spencer, 864-278-9498

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