Federal Communications Commission

Low Country Broadband

October 19th, 2009 by Elana Berkowitz - Director, Economic Opportunity - Omnibus Broadband Initiative

Elana Berkowitz BBCommissioners Clyburn and Copps - both have called South Carolina home though with a bit of a Low Country/Upstate rivalry - returned home for a series of public field hearings and events on broadband. On a rainy Monday night, in the rural town of Ravenel, SC (pop. 2,288) over 100 people came to the Community Hall for a Consumer Forum on Broadband. After brief remarks from a panel that included Commissioners Copps and Clyburn, the mayors of Ravenel, nearby Hollywood (pop 4,398) and Meggett (pop 1,363), local pastors and community leaders, the floor was open to the public. In an area with more than 18% of the population living below the poverty line (vs. 12.6% nationwide) the issue of what ‘affordable service' meant while residents were ‘struggling to put food on the table' was a recurring theme. Herman Allen, a local parade float maker, came to the mic to explain that he has been losing business because of the intermittent quality of his internet service which prevented him from promptly responding to email requests from customers. He then took a moment to apologize to some folks in the crowd and mayors on the dais for emails about pending floats that had yet to be responded to!

Tuesday morning was a standing room only field hearing at Trident Technical College in Charleston, SC. The broad range of panelists included advocates for the elderly, community development corporation executives, academics and wireless entrepreneurs. Commissioner Copps told the crowd, "South Carolina has been on the wrong side of too many gaps too many times … Truth is, government was asleep at the switch for too many years, thinking that somehow broadband would just magically appear-even in those places where there was no business plan to attract any business to build it.  But the good news is that change has come."

The last event of our brief trip to South Carolina was a visit to the Medical University of South Carolina to learn more about their telemedicine programs including stroke care. South Carolina has one of the highest rates of stroke in the nation. Effective stroke treatment with drugs like TPA, a clot buster, require very fast decision making and drug administration, often within only a few hours of stroke onset.  Leveraging broadband to deal with this challenge, MUSC set up a hub-and-spoke style system that connects their stroke specialists to physicians' practices in small towns in the region. MUSC provides on-call physicians available through broadband enabled online video for full consultations. Prior to the launch of REACH (Remote Evaluation of Acute Ischemic Stroke) only 39% of South Carolinians lived within 60 minutes of primary stroke care, with the 6 local doctors offices now participating in the program, 56% of South Carolinians are within 60 minutes of frontline stroke care. MUSC is also piloting telehealth projects for psychiatric care and high risk pregnancies, which have seen significant cost savings. These broadband healthcare applications have proven quite popular, saving patients a full day of travel from nearby Beaufort or Florence and the cost of gas and childcare traditionally required to see a specialist. MUSC Ob/Gyn Dr. Chris Robinson explained, "Every patient was offered the choice between telemedicine and coming to Charleston. No one chose to come to Charleston."

13 Responses to “Low Country Broadband”

  1. Guest says:

    In the middle of the last paragraph, \Acute is Cemic stroke\ should read \Acute Ischemic stroke.\

  2. Robert Naramore says:

    To whom it may concern: I live in a small county/ town in Tennessee; Hohenwald, Tn. 38462 to be exact. I am 10 miles from the actual town. I live in between Dsl connections 1/4 from it towards town and 1/8th a nmile going away from me. I feel segregated. There are 5 homes and a church in the "dead zone". In this zone there is not any reception for the follwing devices: Broadcast television, cell phone, CB radio, or WiFi internet. I have contacted the Lewis County Commission via email about this to no resolve. Is there not anything I could do to get services in my area?

  3. Guest says:

    I symphatize with you. We have an area in Mississippi with the same problem. Have you tried Direct TV and or a satalite connections for the Internet? I know it is not a perfect solution, but it does work. I am having trouble trying to post this solution. Hope you get it.

  4. Dave Denny says:

    Keep the federal government out of the internet control. It is all part of the giant federal/obama plan to control all aspects of our lives. Back off!

  5. Guest says:

    My personal opinion is that the FCC and the other partners should be more focused on the rural and unserved areas, areas that do not have any broadband or are near it but the company have a contract with another company so they will not come in. After these areas are updated then worry about updates ect.after all tthat what its for!!! And as far as the net nuetralality make sure that any company can come anywhere no matter what or force the companies to update areas they are already in telephone and cable, I have insight and verizion here but no broadband now whay is that ah ya im in a rural area but the messed up part is TWC will come in but they have an aggrement with insight not to come in there territories this was said by TWC and insight. Verizon has prommised to update but hasnt for 15+ yrs and i even have an e-mail verifying that they said they were gonna do it and still nothing.The whole idea is to make broadband avialable to everyone not just areas that already have it.

  6. Travis says:

    First off satalite is not broadband... It's access to the internet. They throttle back speeds to near or below dial-up speeds via the Fair Access Policy and there data caps are set so low. They don't even guarantee the speeds they advertise. I live in Campbell, New York , thats right New York and live seven poles away from Time Warner Cables last connection point. Which is less than a 1/4 mile away. They wanted to charge me over $10,000. How is that fair? Do I get to take the cable with me when I move? Why should I have to pay that much to improve there infastructure?? Of course not... Verizon is the local phone provider and they don't bring DSL to any part of this town?? They even have a Central Office located in the town. If the FCC wants to bring broadband to "EVERYONE" they tell Time Warner, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, ect... That if they want a exclusive franchise agreement in towns they need to service allllll of the area.... So Robert... even in Southern Tier New York I feel your pain...

  7. Guest says:

    So typical of an incompetent government agency. The links in your documents do not work. I think it's called plausible deniability. You say it is available, go here to access, but there is nothing there. Just errors. Do I want you making my decisions for me? NO NO NO You have no right. You may like someone else making all your decisions for you, but I am a responsible adult and can make my own decisions. Let the businesses take care of themselves. Let them go where they want. Let them publish what they want. Let them take the responsibility. Leave my Christian television the way it is. Leave my internet the way it is. Yes, I am ranting, but YES, you are out of control. Back Off and let us take care of ourselves!!!

  8. Gray Brooks says:

    Dear Sir or Ma'am,

    As far as any broken links go, please feel free to post where one is and I'll see it fixed. I took a quick look around but couldn't see one offhand. Thank you.

  9. Guest says:

    I dunno about this whole internets thing - can I really entrust my health to the pipes? And what will people think if I show up at my local library in a hospital gown?

  10. Tony says:

    Travis, I totally understand with the sattilite its not internet and as far as the rest you have a valid arguement. Guest i dont think his intenstion was to make your mind up or force to make your mind up it was just a statement i think you were the one out of line he was just giving info on hughsnet or wildblue, To me sounds like you dont want this all to happen or you work for a sattilite company im not sticking up for him but you need to simmer....Travis have you tried 3G or 4G from sprint or verizon thats what i run it doesnt have the bandwidth like sattilite but it works on wow and streaming just some info to look into.

  11. Tony says:

    Okay the FCC ruled in favor of the net nuetlality below is the rules Chairman Genachowski set out a definition of net neutrality.

    1) Consumers are entitled to access whatever lawful Internet content they want. A service provider can't hinder or prevent you from accessing the National Rifle Association's Web site, blogs for the Communist Party, the complete Farmers Almanac or any other content.

    2) Consumers are entitled to run whatever applications and services they want, subject to the needs of law enforcement. Same idea as #1. If you want to use Google mail or run a local online book swapping business, you can't be denied these because the Internet Service Provider (ISP) owns a competing e-mail or has cut a deal with a national book chain.

    3) Consumers can connect to networks with whatever legal devices they want so long as those devices don't harm the networks. You shouldn't be prevented from using the smartphone you love because the wireless provider has an exclusive deal to sell some other type of device.

    4) Consumers are entitled to competition between networks, applications, services and content providers. Translation: there should be more than one wireless and one wire-line service provider wherever possible. For rural communities planning (hoping) for broadband stimulus grants, net neutrality language in the NOFA (Notice of Funds Availability) means from the beginning that these networks should be built to accommodate competitors using the same core infrastructure.

    5) Service providers are not allowed to discriminate between applications, services and content outside of reasonable network management. An ISP can't allow customers to access one content provider's application but block another provider's application because the latter didn't pay the provider a special speed-my-content fee. Reasonable prioritization by the ISP of medical emergency data over Lady Gaga videos should be okay, and an ISP can have different pricing for subscribers who access different amounts of data as long as pricing is not predatory or anti-competitive.

    6) Service providers must be transparent about the network management practices they use. A provider can't slow down or stop your ability to send or receive data without your knowledge. Genachowski expects that, by requiring network owners to make this aspect of their business transparent, subscribers and competitors - rather than government -- will step in to force corrective I see one major issue the rights to have 2 or more isps in one area which is fine for ppl that have already one isp, But for the ppl like me i have none so this leaves me stuck this means that 2 companyies have to come here to get broadband other wise if they dont they the one company applies for the stimulus money will get denied for no other isp in my area.Which this is defeating the entire purpose of deploying broadband to rural areas if this sticks they just took a 2 or 3 yr project to 5 or 10 yrs come on FCC use your brains think about what your doing if you cant hire me ill do it for you.

  12. Travis says:


    Verizon claims that I am in there broadband coverage area. However, I barely get one bar on my cell phone and have to stand in just the right spot. It just blows my mind I'm only about three miles away the Interstate 86 and can't get broadband.

  13. Tony says:

    Travis Wow that really does suck i have a simialar proba with sprint i have 3 towers around my house with 3G and i still have to use an external attena plus i have some thing with all the ISPS out here they all wanna stand and complian about not having broadband in my area but dont do anything about it my state started a nonprofit org to put broadband everywhere so hopefully i will be able to get broadband soon. There is one other option some ppl are byeing up the old infrustrucre from the old tv broadcasting system and useing it for brodband so u might wanna check with the smaller companies its a 800 or 900 mhtz spectrume.

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