South Carolina currently ranks 31st in the USA when it comes to state broadband access. While some counties within South Carolina enjoy strong high-speed coverage, a number of counties continue to lag behind. The statewide average download speed is 125.0 Mbps according to user test data. This is comparable to average speeds in Wisconsin, Utah, and Oregon.
The Digital Divide in South Carolina
The unequal distribution of the availability of the latest internet technologies amongst a certain population creates what is called the digital divide. In South Carolina, this can be seen in the fact that not all of its residents have equal access to high-speed, affordable internet.
For example, while 91.5% of South Carolinians have access to a wired broadband connection with speeds of 25 Mbps or faster, 344,000 people do not have a wired option capable of such speeds, and 171,000 people do not have access to a wired connection at all. Additionally, even with 116 internet providers operating within South Carolina, 552,000 people only have access to one provider at their home, which limits their choice in plans and services.
When it comes to internet expenses, affordability data reveals that 52.4% of South Carolina’s residents have access to a low-priced ($60/month or less) wired internet plan. This percentage is just over the national average of 51.5% of Americans with access to the same.
While South Carolina may not be able to compete with some better-connected states as a whole, there are a number of cities within the state that offer a good combination of internet coverage, pricing, and speeds. The top five best-connected cities in South Carolina are Greenville, Columbia, Charleston, North Myrtle Beach, and Mauldin, with the highest-ranking listed first.
Almost $4 million in federal grant funding has been awarded to the Connect South Carolina program since 2010, which has fueled broadband data collection and development within the state. An additional $9,604,840 of federal grant money has been directed toward the expansion of broadband infrastructure in South Carolina.
Recently, the US Department of Agriculture announced it had invested $9.1 million in providing broadband services for rural South Carolina communities. A quote from the USDA says: “This investment is expected to cover an 81-square-mile area that includes 6,251 rural households, 24 farms, 15 businesses, four critical community facilities, three educational facilities, and a health care center.”
The information above is taken from a mix of public and private datasets. More about our data here.