According to new data, South Carolinians have better high-speed Internet access than residents of other Southeastern states, but lag in the number of people who actually use it, according to a state communications trade group.
In a recent report to state officials, the South Carolina Telecommunications Association said 99 percent of South Carolina households have access to broadband connections, whether through a wireline, wireless service, or mobile device. However, only 62 percent of them actually connect to the internet, which is lower than the national average of 67 percent.
“There are some pockets where that connectivity may not be available and there may not be a landline connection available,” SCTA Executive Director Jerry Pate said, “But these pockets are getting fewer and fewer and smaller in size as companies continue to build out.”
99 percent puts South Carolina ahead of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, and several other states. The number does not include commercial, industrial, or government property, although Pate says South Carolina is a national leader in broadband access for schools, as well.
The group presented the data during a South Carolina Public Services Commission workshop on broadband connectivity last month. The workshop was arranged at the request of Commissioner Randy Mitchell, who serves as Vice Chairman of the Joint Federal State Conference on Advanced Telecommunications Services. The Joint Conference includes Federal Communications Commissioners as well as state utility commissioners and was created to promote deployment of advanced broadband services to all areas of the country.
Pate said five years ago, only 85 percent of households could get internet access. However he said the wireline connections have since increased to 95 percent of households, with an additional 4 percent able to access the internet through mobile devices.
However, the percentage of South Carolina households actually using the internet is still below average, although the report did not say how it compared to other southern states. Pate said previous research indicates a correlation between a person’s level of education level and their likelihood of buying internet service.
“That may be a factor associated with someone making a decision about whether or not they’re going to buy and use technology that requires them to read, comprehend,” Pate said, “And, in the case of using a computer, actually being able to type.”
The Telecommunications Association represents communications companies in the state.