Southern Greenville County still struggling with internet service

GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) – Even in 2022, some residents, in Southern Greenville County, still can’t get dependable, internet service.

When FOX Carolina’s Tresia Bowles was shooting “Getting Answers” near Highway 25, two of her interviews complained about not having internet in the Hodges and Pelzer area.

Christina Burrall-Thompson lives in the part of Southern Greenville County near Belton.

“In this area, we’re not close enough to the towers,” Thompson said.

Thompson has lived there since the 90s. And internet service has been a problem for her family ever since.

“My husband spends hours, literally, hours trying to get reports sent to him for his work,” said Thompson

Bobbie Jones lives in the Hodges area.

“We decided to get a smart refrigerator. So, I’ve been going two years,” Jones said, “And I can’t even use it with the internet.”

Jones says technology is advancing but broadband is not. Jones says the plans are hundreds of dollars a month, yet she still can’t get online

“I couldn’t work from home because I didn’t have internet,” said Jones.

Thompson says she tried everything—multiple expensive plans and even a hotspot. She says for the slow service, the plans aren’t worth the money. And her hotspot only gets two bars, on a good day, and has limited gigabytes.

“When my daughter had to use the internet for school, I drove her 25 miles into Greenville to go to the public library there. We couldn’t get it,” said Thompson.

Thompson says, now, internet is imperative.

“With my daughter moving back in and wanting to go to college and most of it being online, it is very, important,” Thompson said, “Not just for my daughter. There kids all around here.”

We brought this to the attention of the state broadband office. Director Jim Stritzinger says there are ways the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is helping with affordability. It’s a subsidy called The Affordable Broadband Benefit.

“Internet does get expensive,” Stritzinger continues, “Residents that are experiencing financial hardship are qualified for” “that federal subsidy.”

Stritszinger says while his office doesn’t provide internet, the providers come to them for grants. And they’re looking to make improvements.

“The internet is the foundation of the state’s economy. It’s a fundamental enabler for so many things,“ Stritzinger said.

He continues, “We know how critical broadband is. And we’re doing the best we can to get access out there for everybody and then, of course, make it affordable.”

Stritzinger also says you can take the “I Need Internet” survey to tell the office where you’re having problems. It puts a pushpin on the map for them to see where the issues are. You can use “Speed Test by Ookla” to tell the office how fast your internet is.

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