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North Carolina Company Expanding Broadband Internet Into Unserved South Carolina Communities

By Wil Payton

Electronics Service Company (ESC) is a 36-year-old family-owned business in Hamlet, North Carolina that offers high-speed wireless broadband Internet service to roughly 2,500 square miles of southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina.

ESC’s expansion into neighboring South Carolina has proven to be a significant technological enhancement for smaller regions like Wallace, an unincorporated community in northwestern Marlboro County, with an estimated population of 892 according to the 2010 census.

A recently released Connect South Carolina report revealed that broadband is available to 96.75% of South Carolina households, up from 96.16% last October, leaving 58,456 South Carolina households unable to connect to basic high-speed Internet. It is a promising development to see providers focusing on smaller unserved communities.

“We are encouraged by the progress we are seeing in the effort to bridge South Carolina’s broadband access gaps,” said Corey Johns, Connect South Carolina stakeholder relations manager. “The effort must continue, however, if we are to bring the empowering technology of broadband to the remaining 58,456 South Carolina households currently without access to basic, non-mobile, high-speed Internet service.”

This illustration shows how ESC uses high-speed wireless networking equipment (up to 300Mbps) to interconnect several towers to its network operations center

Customer-premise equipment consists of a two-way radio unit and directional antenna mounted at the customer's residence or business that maintains a constant connection to one of these towers.

The service works anywhere within range of one of the towers that has line-of-sight (or close to it) to that tower. This wireless Internet service can often offer broadband more economically to rural areas unserved by more familiar broadband services requiring miles of wiring. According to ESC, its greatest service advantage is that they can more easily reach rural areas, where other providers have to budget sometimes millions of dollars to run wires or fibers all over a county.

The download speed is comparable to that offered by DSL and cable Internet service standard packages (typically up to 3.5Mbps), while the upload speed exceeds that of most basic DSL and cable offerings (approximately 1Mbps).

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