South Carolina Focuses On Broadband

Conferences, meetings, and workshops assess broadband’s growth across the state

By Wil Payton, Communications Specialist, Connected Nation

Broadband is a powerful, enabling technology that is fast becoming the engine of economic growth in America. Increasingly, businesses seeking to open or expand operations look to see not only whether a community has robust broadband access, but also whether potential workers have digital literacy skills and tools. The economic future of communities in South Carolina depends not only on whether robust broadband infrastructure is present but also whether businesses and individuals fully utilize that technology to grow and develop local economies.

On August 18, the South Carolina Public Service Commission is holding a Broadband Best Practices Workshop where Jerry Pate, South Carolina Telephone Association, Corey Johns, Connected Nation, Tom Fletcher, Department of State Information Technology, Dent Adams, Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Rich Schollman, Century Link, and Rick Wolfe, Comcast, are scheduled to discuss broadband availability, adoption, affordability, and best practices across the state.

Earlier this month, the South Carolina Association of Counties and the Joint SC/NC Cable Television Association conducted events to examine the current level of broadband implementation statewide.

At the December 2010 South Carolina Association of Counties Legislative Conference, Patrick Mason, co-founder of the Center for Carolina Living, introduced the term “turbo tourist” to define a person who visits one or more times to seek employment, open a business, moves to the state to purchase a second home or to retire.

“We like turbo tourists, because they spend more, stay longer, and come back more frequently than the average visitor,” Mason said. “The bad news is that they’re only about six percent of the 29 million tourist who visit each year. So, we need to target the six percent and reach out and attract our fair share of the larger number of tourist if we want to see some economic impact for all of our counties.”

The use of technology may prove to be a viable tool for converting tourists into residents.

A report by Connect South Carolina shows businesses with a broadband connection are likely to generate more revenue and jobs. South Carolina businesses with high-speed Internet connections report having median annual revenues $200,000 more than business without broadband.

While the state’s technological landscape has room for improvement, inroads have been made.

“Connect South Carolina’s research reveals that broadband-connected South Carolina businesses earn twice the revenues of those without broadband” said Ray Sharpe, South Carolina Cable Television Association executive director. “South Carolina’s cable companies are proud of the connectivity we provide that enables these businesses to succeed, grow, and create more jobs for the residents of the Palmetto State.”

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