As the COVID-19 pandemic crisis unfolded, Charter worked quickly to improve connectivity for hospitals, small businesses, governments, schools, and other institutions. The pandemic forced many to stay home in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus—and as a result working, learning, accessing healthcare, and catching up with loved ones moved online.
Unfortunately, tens of millions of households and businesses, including a significant number in rural areas, still lack access to broadband internet service. Charter continues to invest significantly in its network and in efforts to help bridge the digital divide.
The passage of the CARES Act, which allocated money to states to assist in the pandemic response, created new opportunities for these partnerships and helped fund broadband expansion projects to connect residents to reliable, high-speed broadband. Charter teamed up with state and local governments across our footprint to expand access to service to those who remained unserved.
In July 2020 the South Carolina General Assembly allocated $50 million of CARES Act funding to the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) to be used for the expansion of broadband infrastructure, with a particular emphasis on expanding to rural communities and communities with a high prevalence of COVID-19 or with demographic characteristics consistent with risk factors for COVID-19.
Working closely with ORS, Charter expanded its infrastructure to provide broadband services to communities across nine counties in the state. The project represented a nearly $1 million investment—half of which came from CARES Act funding and the other half from Charter directly—to bring gigabit broadband speeds to more than 440 homes. Charter moved swiftly to complete this infrastructure investment, and now, these previously unserved citizens are able to perform virtual telehealth visits with health care facilities and hospitals, attend classes online, and work from home.
Charter has long been committed to expanding its network to reach as many Americans as possible—in the last three years alone, Charter invested more than $20 billion in infrastructure and technology and extended its network to reach an additional 2.5 million homes and businesses, about a third in rural areas. As the nation continues to address the impacts of the pandemic, Charter continues to engage with local partners to expand broadband to the unserved communities that need it most.