McClellanville County is a rural community in South Carolina, and like many communities across rural America, access to high-speed internet presents real barriers. Families like Lindsay’s struggled to stay connected in the digital age. “When the kids came home from school and I was working, no one could get on,” said Lindsay. “Everyone had to stop and wait until I was done, and the kids would have to wait to do their homework.”
But with the help of USDA Rural Development’s ReConnect Program, McClellanville County residents now have greater access to broadband services. In the form of loans, grants, or a combination of the two, the program expands and builds infrastructure for broadband in communities without sufficient access.
Last year, Rural Development provided a $8,184,531 grant to finance the project. Home Telephone Company matched this funding to extend the fiber optic cable over 153 square miles, connecting 3,780 households, 19 educational facilities, and eight critical community facilities.
“It’s been a game changer for us. We have multiple devices, and everyone is always running something, and we never had a glitch or interruption in service. It’s been beyond superior to what we had,” Lindsay said.
USDA Rural Development recently announced a new round of ReConnect Program funding, and eligible communities can apply from September 6 to November 2, 2022. This investment helps fuel long-term rural economic development and comes after a $401 million investment in high-speed internet for rural communities that was announced in July. The initiative will impact more than 31,000 people and will help close the digital divide for rural communities.
To learn more about the ReConnect Program and if your community could qualify, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect.