Horry County fights for stimulus funding for technology

Horry County, SC

By Jennifer Grove - bio | email

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County is partnering with Horry Telephone Cooperative to bring the latest in wireless broadband technology to the Grand Strand. They say they are working to fund the project through a Broadband Stimulus Grant.

Horry County and HTC say there is a lot of competition for the grant money, but they are doing what they can to make sure the money comes to Horry County.

HTC Chief Executive of Customer Operations Brent Groome says they are moving into uncharted territory with this new technology, and many of its applications are still undiscovered.

"I think once the technology evolves certainly the applications are probably there, but they're dormant [right now] because they don't know what they can do with it," Groome said.

Groome says the current technology in place is a hard-wired system, while the new scenario would be completely wireless.

"You may have an antenna on your vehicle, you may have an antenna at your house, but ultimately it is coming from a wireless signal," Groome explained.

Groome says this technology could be used for everything from education to video chatting on cell phones, but in Horry County the first priority is equipping first responders.

"It's more of an application the county has for public safety," Groome explained. "That will be the first driver, so in terms of the average Joe seeing impact immediately... no, that won't happen."

Sheila Butler, with Horry County Government, says the new broadband will open up new doors for more technology in the community.

"It will help us from a public safety standpoint with having information at the fingertips in a police car or a fire truck or an ambulance," Butler said.

Horry County Police Officer Jason Freer says officers currently have limited access to information when they are out in the field. He says officers can only get a certain amount of information through on the system, and they are limited to using designated databases because of the small pipeline their modem has right now.

"In today's day and age with data and technology, it's no longer a luxury, it's a necessity," Freer said. "You have to have this for the officer to provide an adequate service to the community."

Butler says the grant could help create both jobs and infrastructure. The county is still working on its application and expects some decisions to be made on the federal level regarding the stimulus grant by September, she said.

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