The South Carolina Educational Broadband Service (EBS) Commission has recommended leasing spectrum to service providers to create accessible broadband to the populace. Clearwire and Digital Bridge would be allowed to lease up to 95% of South Carolina’s ETV’s unused spectrum.
Both Clearwire and Digital Bridge have committed to offering WiMax technology across the state. In exchange, the two companies would pay nearly $143 million over the course of a 30-year lease into a state general fund, including $7 million upfront.
“The proposal is a great opportunity for South Carolina,” said Neil Mellen, a committee member. “State government will enjoy much-needed revenues for basic services, such as school teachers and public safety, while the lion’s share of the spectrum will be in the hands of those most capable of successfully building it out: dedicated commercial providers. That means broader access, expanded service and lower rates for Internet access throughout South Carolina.”
But Brett Bursey, director of the S.C. Progressive Network stated “This is taxpayer-funded, the millions of dollars South Carolinians have put into building up the broadcast system could and should have resulted in the nation’s first statewide free wireless system.”
After review by a Joint Bond Review Committee, the State Budget and Control Board will have the final say on the proposal next month.