The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for South Carolinians, and broadband service is a major example: when schools switched to remote learning this spring, the lack of uniform access to broadband quickly emerged as a significant obstacle. The issue also created hardship for healthcare providers and many others. The South Carolina General Assembly pulled together key stakeholders, gathered input and adopted a Broadband Accessibility Act intended to improve access across the state.
Santee Cooper believes our resources can be used in accordance with the Act, to enable broadband providers to improve statewide accessibility more quickly and less expensively.
Santee Cooper is not a provider of broadband, nor do we want to be. Rather, we can allow providers to lease our excess fiber capacity and allow access to our poles, ducts, conduits, easements, and rights of way. To that end, we have inventoried our available excess fiber and attachment capability across our more than 5,000 miles of transmission lines crisscrossing the state. We have also developed several principles to govern our involvement, and we invite your input about these principles. Please send any comments to Dom Maddalone, Chief Information Officer and Senior Director of Innovation, at email@example.com.
Finalizing this program is a high priority for Santee Cooper. Over the next couple of months, our management will finalize our program components, and develop terms and conditions and a pricing methodology. We expect to seek approval from our Board of Directors by the end of the first quarter of 2021.