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Home Telecom awarded $8.1M grant for rural broadband

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Home Telecom has been awarded an $8.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop fiber optic cable infrastructure in rural Berkeley and Charleston counties.

The Rural Development Broadband ReConnect grant will help create or improve high-speed broadband infrastructure in areas of Honey Hill, Huger, Awendaw, McClellanville, Cross and Sandridge.

Home Telecom is matching the grant with $8.1 million, bringing the total project investment to $16.2 million. The 96 miles of fiber optic cable is expected to reach 3,780 rural households, 23 farms, 19 businesses, 19 educational facilities and eight fire stations, according to the USDA.

“Today, we are celebrating how a well-crafted public-private partnership can be constructed to allow for a significant investment by a private company to be leveraged to provide needed advanced broadband services to underserved and unserved, high-cost, rural communities,” Home Telecom President and CEO William Helmly said in a news release.

Home Telecom applied for the grant funding in June as part of the USDA Rural Development program, which is designed to allow the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to improve broadband infrastructure in areas with connection speeds of less than 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.

“Rural America needs robust modern broadband infrastructure to thrive,” Jim Hubbard, USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment, said in the release. “The critical funding we’ve announced today will be used to improve internet speeds for hospitals, public safety and schools and provide new opportunities for economic growth.”

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