Upcountry Fiber, an internet service provider created by utility cooperatives Blue Ridge Electric Co-op
(BREC) and West Carolina Rural Telephone Cooperative (WCTEL) announce they have been selected by Anderson County to bring more than 2,800 miles of high-speed fiber internet access to the unserved and underserved parts of Anderson County to help bridge the “digital divide” where little to no access exists. The funding needed to complete the rollout is projected at $175 million at current material through existing service providers.
A study conducted by Palmetto Engineering identified need within the county for tens of thousands of unserved and underserved households and businesses, which will benefit from having access to this critical utility. The process of broadband construction and funding can be arduous, however the diligence exhausted in completing the research, selection of a partner in Upcountry Fiber and guidance from state officials are all vital steps in providing broadband to Anderson County communities.
“We are proud to partner with Upcountry Fiber to bring a better quality of life and economic competitiveness to Anderson County through broadband internet access,” said Mark Williamson, chief information officer for Anderson County. “This project will advance with the speed of the funding that can be appropriated by our elected officials at the federal, state and local level, as well as investment from Upcountry Fiber. We look forward to the next step of beginning construction.”
“Upcountry Fiber is excited to be working with Anderson County and its school districts to help children and teachers have access to the speed of information that their peers in other areas of the Upstate already have to help them excel,” said Jeff Wilson, president and CEO of WCTEL. “Although the need has been apparent for some time, the pandemic exposed critical needs that were exceptional in nature including e-learning and virtual medical care via an internet connection that left some citizens without access to essential services.”
“Cooperatives like Blue Ridge and WCTEL have been supporting under and unserved areas with critical utilities for decades when others would not, “said Jim Lovinggood, chief executive officer of BREC. “It is only natural for Upcountry Fiber to be a part of bringing progress through access to broadband to Anderson County. We look forward to helping Anderson County, with support of additional government funding, to bring this project to life.”
By focusing on the unserved and underserved populations of the county, our new partnership will ensure that our citizens will now have options for access to all critical utility services including broadband.
Upcountry Fiber had already planned to expand its service to the La France/Pendleton, Piercetown and Townville areas in 2022 as a part of its existing broadband rollout strategy.
Upcountry Fiber officially launched in June 2021 and has since completed more than 300 miles of high-speed fiber in Pickens and Oconee, with 1,200 households, businesses and schools served and 2,100 orders placed. The majority of these are in unserved and underserved rural areas.