Sandhill Telephone Cooperative and Northeastern Technical College (NETC) have formed a partnership to provide free broadband service to NETC students who are now completing coursework through a virtual college concept in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is tremendous news and the sort of collaboration that we must foster during these challenging times,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “This innovative problem-solving will undoubtedly help Northeastern Technical College’s students, but should also serve as an example to all South Carolinians that when we come together with a common goal, we will persevere.”
The partnership was formed to help NETC students in Chesterfield and Marlboro Counties access the internet and continue with their education during the pandemic. The need has grown due to new mandates, dictating that colleges across the state must deliver the remainder of the semester’s course work online and virtually.
“This partnership with Sandhill fully supports the mission of NETC and provides further accessibility for the success of our students” said NETC President Dr. Kyle Wagner. “Our students and their academic success during this time has been a key issue as our academic team gears up to take all classes virtually.”
NETC and Sandhill’s developed maps of the service area of the two organization, and it was determined that over 500 NETC students could be served with the NETC Educational Broadband Agreement. Of those, approximately 200 already live in a home where Sandhill is the broadband service provider. The remaining 300+ students will receive free installation of basic broadband service from Sandhill.
“We understand the importance of continued education as well as the urgency of the situation. We want to help in any way we can,” said Lee Chambers, CEO and General Manager of Sandhill Telephone Cooperative.
All students will receive a bill credit to cover the full cost of the basic broadband package. In addition, Sandhill currently has 10 locations for public Wi-Fi access, NETC has 3 locations in the Chesterfield/Marlboro County area at each community campus, in addition this partnership will provide 10 designated Wi-Fi Hot Spots in areas that are currently underserved by other providers. Students will need to check with Sandhill’s about locations once installation of the Wi-Fi Hot Spots are complete.
The NETC Educational Broadband Agreement is for students enrolled in the Spring semester. Funding for the project will be provided in part by a grant awarded to NETC, a donation through NETC Foundation, and other sources. Current students are encouraged to check out the NETC website for further information at www.netc.edu or can contact Sandhill at (843) 658-3434 or apply online at https://shtc.net/netc/.
If you would like to donate to assist with more students receiving this and similar services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may do so through the NETC Foundation with a tax-deductible donation. Contact Erin Fann, Assistant Vice President of Institutional Advancement at firstname.lastname@example.org.