Coronavirus highlighted SC’s broadband problem. Leaders are under pressure to fix it

Achieving a longtime bipartisan priority for South Carolina elected officials — securing federal funding to provide more reliable internet access in remote rural areas across the state — is taking on new urgency amid the coronavirus crisis.

And with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., turning to negotiations on the next, massive funding bill to help people and the economy withstand the burden of the pandemic, pressure is building on members of the S.C. congressional delegation to fight for more money for rural broadband deployment as a part of that effort.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from North Charleston, understands that “COVID-19 has shined a light on how important it is for everyone from students to seniors to have access to reliable internet services,” said his spokesman, Sean Smith.

Graham said specifically this week that he would advocate for expanded broadband funding in the next phase of coronavirus relief legislation.

Scott “intends to advocate for significant increases in federal investment” in broadband deployment “as the Senate negotiates future relief packages,” though his office did not elaborate on a timetable.

Duncan said in a statement to The State that “rural broadband is an important goal” that should be “a prime candidate for inclusion in a late-stage, economic recovery and infrastructure package sometime down the road.”

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