Why is SC LightRail important?
South Carolina has been operating at a competitive disadvantage. A report issued in 2007 by the Southeastern University Research Association (SURA) notes that South Carolina, Mississippi, and West Virginia are the only three states in the Southeast that have not created a dedicated, statewide networking resource to foster development of the knowledge economy. The formation of SC LightRail begins to level the playing field and will move the State of South Carolina to the forefront of research competitiveness.

As the National Science Foundation (NSF) reports, "Computer and communication networks are among society's most important infrastructures. They are vital to the operation of many sectors of our society - from financial and manufacturing to education and healthcare - and they are engines for economic growth." Increasingly, NSF and other major government and private granting agencies are requiring that grant applicants have ready access to high-speed, high-capacity, dedicated state and regional optical networks in order for grant applications to receive consideration. Researchers at Clemson, MUSC, and USC are now beginning to have greater access to collaborative opportunities throughout the world, and are beginning to report more favorable consideration in grant competitions.

Important and tangible benefits associated with SCLR already have accrued. In December 2007, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) awarded a $7.9-million grant to South Carolina to interconnect 35 rural locations via broadband to improve healthcare intervention and service delivery. The grant proposed SCLR as the network backbone. The grant application would not have been considered without the commitment to SCLR implementation in 2008.