A partnership between Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative (BREC) and West Carolina Rural Telephone Cooperative (WCTEL) will bring high-speed broadband internet to Pickens County.
The creation of Upcountry Fiber and an investment of more than $150 million was announced on May 18, 2021.
“As the pandemic kept workers and students at home, many found that their existing internet wasn’t equipped for the demands placed on it. Upcountry Fiber will produce speeds of 200 megabits per second — for both downloads and uploads,” WCTEL Director of Commercial Operations Shannon Shears said.
“Virtual meetings are not going away,” BREC’s Vice-President of Economic Development and Governmental Affairs Zach Hinton said.
Cooperative officials know the project will improve quality of life and expand economic opportunities in the forecasted five-year rollout in both rural and suburban areas.
“You can get the same or better quality of service in a little rural town that we serve than you can get in New York City or Chicago or places like that,” Sears said.
The partnership will cover 1,800 square miles in Pickens, Oconee, Anderson, and northern Greenville and Spartanburg counties.