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The Villages
Sunday, May 19, 2024

Sumter County reports progress in $4.3 million project to bring internet to rural residents

Charter Communications is approaching the halfway point of its project to offer broadband internet access in rural Sumter County.

An invoice for about $1.1 million submitted last month to the county indicated the number of serviceable and activated addresses were about 44 percent of the build.

Charter, which also operates as Spectrum, was hired to complete the project with federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Total project cost is $4.3 million.

The company constructed 88.7 miles of access in December 2022 of a total of 332 miles, according to a quarterly report.

More than 600 addresses were activated in December and another 61 in January contributing to a total of 1,595 since the project began. Working from the south end of the county, service is expected to be available to more than 3,600 addresses.

About 78 percent of the project area will be covered above ground and about 22 percent underground.

Charter teams first walk through an area gathering data and taking photographs of roads, addresses and every pole.

Using information from the project design and the walks, the company then seeks permit permission to use certain poles. Pole permitting, which sometimes takes over six month, is the biggest cause of delay.

When permits are approved, fiber optic cable is installed both above ground and underground.

After construction is finished, flyers and mailers are used to alert residents that the broadband service is available.

When the project was announced two years ago, rural residents of Tillman’s Hammock in northwestern Sumter County said they had difficulty with cellular and internet services.

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