Home Telecom Hosts Rural Broadband Celebration at Tri-Community Center in Cross


Home Telecom Hosts Rural Broadband Celebration at Tri-Community Center in Cross

MONCKS CORNER, SC April 2, 2024 — On March 26th, Home Telecom welcomed residents and leaders from the tri-county region to their Rural Broadband Celebration. The event served as a milestone to reflect on the Fiber expansions that have positively impacted the Lowcountry to date and also to kick-off Home Telecom’s next $14.7 million rural broadband expansion project, beginning this week in north Berkeley County.

“I am here to announce a total project investment of $7.3 million from the Capital Project Funds grant project, $2.5 million investment from Home Telecom and $4.8 million from the ORS that will help connect 1,258 homes and 101 businesses in North Berkeley County by 2025,” said South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff Director Jim Stritzinger. “From my vantage point in the crow’s nest, I can see the end of the digital divide in South Carolina and it’s not five years out – it’s probably less than two – and we will have everyone in South Carolina connected,” he said to heavy audience applause.

The celebration took place at the Tri-Community Center in Cross, SC and opened with a heart-felt invocation by Sr. Pastor Devita Brown of Poplar Hill Christian Church. The event featured several prominent area leaders. In addition to Stritzinger, Awendaw Town Councilman Frank Frazier, Assistant Deputy Administrator Shawn Arner with the USDA Rural Utility Service, and Berkeley County School Board Member Yvonne Bradley representing the school board and Representative Joe Jefferson, all shared the benefits of Home Telecom’s broadband expansion into the rural Lowcountry so far.

Berkeley County Councilman Caldwell Pinckney, Jr. said he has watched Home Telecom technology move from party lines to broadband.

He brought chuckles from the audience when he compared the excitement of fiber broadband to how he felt when Home Telecom first replaced his party line.

“It’s been a long time coming (broadband) … and it shows how a company and government can learn to work together for the good of the people,” Pinckney said. “Good things happen to rural communities and that’s a continuum we need to stay on. That’s going to be a blessing for a lot of folks.”

After a warm welcome from Home Telecom Vice President of Marketing, Gina Shuler, Home Telecom President and CEO, William Helmly then led off the program by explaining how Home Telecom’s journey to laying a fiber network to underserved customers in towns like Awendaw and Harleyville is like a long, determined walk on a beach.

“Way out on the horizon, you see a long fishing pier extending out into the ocean,” he said. “It is so far off you can barely see it, but that is your destination.

“And then when eventually you arrive at the pier, you look back from where you came and recognize for the first time what tremendous progress you have made.

Home Telecom Hosts Rural Broadband Celebration at Tri-Community Center in Cross

“That is where Home Telecom finds ourselves today – with 330 miles of fiber laid this year and at least the same in 2025. But while we were working to get there, we realized we hadn’t told anybody what was going on.”

Helmly continued, “Before we put our heads down again and focus on a new distant destination in Cross and other communities in North Berkeley County, we are taking the time to celebrate those accomplishments. That’s what today is all about.”

Between the broadband expansion projects completed and contractual commitments for the future, Home Telecom has more than $60 million worth of projects on the books in Berkeley, Dorchester, and Charleston counties.

“By the end of 2026, so much of the Tri-county area will be served with the most advanced technology available anywhere in the country,” Helmly concluded.

Keynote speaker, U.S. Air Force Bronze Star Medal recipient Stacy Pearsall, executive producer and host of the PBS television show After Action, took the stage to tell her story. She was accompanied by her service animal, America’s Vet Dogs Charlie, formerly Today Show’s “Puppy with a Purpose”.

Seriously wounded at just 27 years old, Pearsall spoke about how “disconnected” she felt from everyone and everything while recovering in a Veteran’s Administration hospital. “Of course, I stood out like a sore thumb at the VA and a World War II veteran inspired me to reconnect with my photography, which led to my starting After Action, showcasing every aspect of the military life after returning home from deployment.”

The first season was taped from her farm in Harleyville, SC where they struggled with spotty cell phone service and no fiber network.

“But just as we were starting Season two, Home Telecom brought fiber to Harleyville and you should have seen my husband do a happy dance!”

She said Home Telecom is a huge part of the success of the show and attributed to a much more efficient production of the next season of After Action.

“If we can touch and reconnect with one vet who needs it, whose life we can change before it is too late, then we accomplish so much,” she said. “We need connectivity to be able to reach out and talk to each other, to counsel veterans when they need it.”

Following the program, guests were treated to lunch and dessert provided by Awendaw-based Middleton's Village BBQ.


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