Clyburn, Officials Celebrate Innovative Allendale Broadband Pilot Project
Siklu takes part in the successful first-of-its-kind pilot project to provide residential broadband service for families with K-12 students in Allendale County
COLUMBIA, SC – May 7, 2021 – Today, the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS), in partnership with multiple public and private partners including Siklu, a world leader in 5G, Gigabit-speed fixed wireless network equipment, is announcing the completion of a successful first-of-its-kind pilot project to provide residential broadband service for families with K-12 students in Allendale County and establish multiple public Wi-Fi hubs.
A press conference to discuss the project is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the University of Salkehatchie Commons (465 James Brandt Blvd. Allendale, S.C. 29810), and speakers include U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn and representatives from the Southern Carolina Regional Alliance, Allendale County Council, the Allendale School District, USC-Salkehatchie, SCETV, and the Office of Regulatory Staff.
Beginning in November 2020, the ORS partnered with SCETV, the South Carolina Department of Education, the University of South Carolina (USC) Salkehatchie, Allendale County School District, the Allendale Hampton Jasper Regional Library, the Town of Allendale, the Southern Carolina Alliance, and Revolution D, Inc., to launch the Allendale Broadband Pilot Project.
The goal of the project was to see how rapidly wireless internet infrastructure could be deployed by using existing state assets to a community that did not have internet access. The project was funded by the ORS using $393,104 of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act appropriations.
Public Wi-Fi hubs were established at three different locations— Allendale Elementary School, USC Salkehatchie, and the Allendale Hampton Jasper Regional Library – thanks to equipment donated from Siklu and Linksys. Each location was equipped with high-speed Linksys outdoor access points. Direct fiber connections drive the hubs at Allendale Elementary School and USC Salkehatchie. The third hub at the Allendale Hampton Jasper Regional Library is connected to the USC Salkehatchie tower by using Siklu Etherhaul™ equipment (5G, 60GHz mmWave radios).
In addition to public Wi-Fi, Revolution D worked with SCETV to design and deploy a private LTE fixed wireless network or citizens broadband radio service (CBRS). CBRS is a band of radio-frequency spectrum from 3.5GHz to 3.7GHz that was made generally available for commercial deployment in January 2020 by the Federal Communications Commission. The Allendale Broadband Pilot Program is one of the first CBRS deployments in the nation.
Revolution D worked with Palmetto Rural Telephone Cooperative to establish a link from the main fiber network to two SCETV towers located at USC Salkehatchie and at Allendale Elementary School. Dominion Energy South Carolina helped to provide power to the sites, and corporate partners Linksys, Siklu, and Ookla® made significant contributions to the initiative. Local contractors were used for all engineering design and construction activities.
The result of the work was that a residential network was created that now provides internet access to approximately 1,000 homes in the Allendale community. Wireless network speeds will vary depending on each home’s geography, but initial tests have logged maximum download/upload speeds of 78 Mbps/6 Mbps.
In February, the first routers were distributed to 20 eligible families with students in the Allendale County School District. The remainder of the 300 devices purchased for this project will be distributed at no cost to additional residents.
“Providing wireless internet service where there was no access before using existing community assets such as water towers or nearby ETV towers provides a bridge to broadband,” said Jim Stritzinger of the ORS. “We were able to go into rural Allendale County and in 61 days we had 1,000 homes with internet access.”
“That’s tremendously exciting because it’s replicable. If you can do it in rural Allendale County, you can do it anywhere.”
ORS Executive Director Nanette Edwards said the project’s success was the result of dedicated stakeholders.
“This project could never have come to fruition without an incredible amount of willingness on so many people’s parts to do whatever they could to help,” Edwards said. “Everybody involved understood how important it was to this community to bring internet connectivity here as quickly as possible, and everyone gave of themselves and their time to make it a reality.”
As part of the Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP), the Allendale pilot project helped aid the expansion of broadband infrastructure with emphasized services to rural communities and communities with a high prevalence of COVID-19 or with demographic characteristics consistent with risk factors for COVID-19.
The $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or “CARES Act” was passed by Congress to help provide relief to the United States economy from the COVID-19 pandemic. The South Carolina General Assembly passed Act 142 authorizing the ORS to expend up to $50 million for broadband initiatives related to COVID-19. Included in this $50 million was funding to expand broadband access through the BIP.
More information can be found at ORS.SC.GOV/broadband.
Project At A Glance
Households Served: 300
Households Passed*: 1,000
Businesses Passed: 25
Community Anchor Points Passed: 10
Educational Institutions Passed: 4
Public Wi-Fi Maximum Download/Upload Speeds: Using Siklu’s EtherHaul™ 614TX and their state-of-the-art mmWave (5G) technology, achieved 300 Mbps symmetric circuit speeds (300M up and down), tripling the capacity of the library.
Residential Network Maximum Download/Upload Speeds: 78 Mbps / 6 Mbps
*The residence or business is eligible to subscribe to services.
What They’re Saying
“We are thrilled by the early success of the Allendale Broadband Pilot Program in bringing connectivity to the county, which we are proud to contribute to with broadband network intelligence data through our Ookla for Good initiative. This public-private partnership to make the internet better, faster and more accessible for rural communities in need is an excellent model for tackling the urgent issue of digital equity in South Carolina and beyond.” – Kathy Macdonald, Director of Ookla for Good
“The Allendale Broadband Pilot Program demonstrates how mmWave wireless can be used to bridge the Digital Divide, and do so both cost effectively and quickly. Siklu has been working on closing the Digital Divide in both rural and urban settings even before COVID made this dramatically worse. With Public Wi-Fi re-emerging as a key connectivity solution with its ubiquitous availability in phones, tablets, PCs and more, these Access Points with Gigabit capacities need a backhaul system that can meet or exceed those speeds. Siklu was proud to be part of the efforts to get Allendale across the digital chasm.” – Ronen Ben-Hamou, CEO of Siklu Inc.
“Reliable broadband service is integral for students, educators, and families to successfully navigate our modern K-12 education system. This investment will not only benefit K-12 but also allow the Allendale community greater access to healthcare, higher education, and to compete in today’s digital environment. I am proud of the success this public-private partnership has brought and look forward to replicating it across South Carolina.” – South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman
“We are excited to take part in the Allendale Broadband Pilot program that put in place a broadband infrastructure needed to help residents ‘close the digital divide’ with access to high performance Wi-Fi. Internet accessibility is a basic and integral part of how we operate as a society, and we often forget that there are many people in this country, like the citizens of Allendale, that don’t have sufficient access. We are honored and humbled to participate with this group of private and public providers who came together to connect the Allendale community.” – Steven Jones, Vice President of Global Sales, Linksys
“USC Salkehatchie is proud to have played a role in providing internet connectivity to the residents of Allendale. We know that this infrastructure will provide amazing opportunities in education and economic growth for the region. Using existing assets to implement a rapid, economical solution to a serious problem shows that with creative thinking and teamwork many challenges facing rural communities can be resolved.” – Dr. Chris Nesmith, Dean, USC Salkehatchie
“At SCETV, we have a unique set of tools and technology at our disposal. It’s my belief that we should leverage those resources however we can to most benefit the citizens of this state. “This project aligns perfectly with that belief as it utilizes two existing SCETV towers to bring Internet connectivity to a community in need. We’re proud to be a part of this multi-organization, public-private collaboration and look forward to using it as a model for other communities of need across South Carolina.” – Anthony Padgett, SCETV president and CEO
“We are very excited to be a partner in this project and look forward to seeing the benefits first-hand. Internet hotspots such as this one will afford many rural seniors with a wealth of opportunities, ranging from tele-health options to virtual interactions with grandchildren and other loved ones.” – Connie Munn, Director, S.C. Department on Aging
“Our teams are hard at work every day making sure customers get the safe, reliable electricity they count on us to provide. Playing a part in this project with so many others who care about our communities gave us a special opportunity to provide electricity for broadband receivers so students in rural parts of South Carolina like Allendale County can have the digital tools they need to succeed in school. It warms our hearts to put our energy to work by serving children in this way when the need is greater than ever.” – Keller Kissam, president of Dominion Energy South Carolina Electric Operations
“Fast, reliable broadband is critical to business in this competitive, global marketplace. We applaud the efforts of our state agencies in utilizing state resources in partnership with private industry to create the best stewardship of local and state assets. This project demonstrates that high speed broadband access can be expanded quickly and effectively in rural counties, where our citizens, students, institutions and industries can compete globally while enjoying the quality of life that rural South Carolina offers. We look forward to working with Congressman Clyburn and these partners to expand the program throughout our region.” – Danny Black, President and CEO, SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance
For Further Information – Partner P.R. Contacts
Allendale County School District
Fateish Graham / email@example.com / 803-584-4603
Dominion Energy South Carolina
Rhonda O’Banion / Rhonda.firstname.lastname@example.org / 803-562-9308
Jen Warren / V.P. of Global Communications / email@example.com / 310-422-6588
Adriane Blum / V.P. of Communications / firstname.lastname@example.org / 206-792-9711
Keith Harris / Director of Marketing / email@example.com / 803-888-2014
David Sumi / V.P. of Marketing / firstname.lastname@example.org / 408-835-8746
South Carolina Department on Aging
Hank Page / Public Information / email@example.com / 803-734-2088
South Carolina Dept. of Education
Ryan Brown / Chief Communications Officer / firstname.lastname@example.org / 803-734-5080
South Carolina Educational Television (SCETV)
Jeremy Cauthen / Director of Communications / email@example.com / 803-737-3433
Kay Maxwell / V.P. of Marketing / firstname.lastname@example.org / 803-541-0023
University of South Carolina-Salkehatchie
Stephanie Gruber / Coordinator of Marketing and Communications / email@example.com / 843-908-2738
Keith Harris / Director of Marketing / firstname.lastname@example.org / 803-888-2014
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