Governor Brian Kemp announced this week that an electric cooperative will partner to expand broadband in the middle part of the state.
Middle Georgia EMC is partnering with Conexon Connect to bring internet to 4,800 households in Dooly, Houston, Macon, Pulaski, Turner, Wilcox, and Ben Hill counties. An estimate 1,900 mile fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network will facilitate the internet capabilities at an estimated price tag of $36.7 million.
The project, however, means that 100 percent of Middle Georgia EMC members will have access to fiber internet upon completion, which is expected within two years. The first customers will be connected as early as the first quarter of 2022.
“Middle Georgia EMC and Conexon Connect’s announcement today will positively impact the lives of countless hardworking Georgians in some of the most rural agricultural communities in our state. Fiber broadband service opens doors for new business opportunities, additional education resources, telemedicine, and so many other tools that improve everyday quality of life,” Governor Kemp said in a news release. “This is another product of Senate Bill 2 which I signed in 2019, giving EMCs the legal ability to provide broadband service. I want to thank Middle Georgia EMC’s leadership for finding a partner to help develop a solution to better serve their entire community.”
The fiber-optic network will offer members access to symmetrical gigabit internet capabilities (same download and upload speeds) – among the fastest and most robust in the nation. Additionally, it will provide reliable, clear phone service and enable the benefits of smart grid capabilities to the electrical infrastructure, including improved power outage response times, better load balancing, more efficient electricity delivery, and other benefits.
“High-speed internet service is no longer just a want in today’s world,” said Public Service Commissioner Jason Shaw. “It is absolutely a need. Lack of fast, reliable internet service in rural areas is something I hear about from Georgians all over the state each and every day. Georgia’s Public Service Commission is dedicated to helping improve broadband access for every household in this state, no matter the location.”
“Our members have waited long enough for high-speed access to make telemedicine, remote learning, working from home, and videoconferencing with loved ones a reality on a daily basis. Conexon Connect is making it possible for our members to access this vital service at last. We are ready to show them all the opportunities that open up in a more connected community.”Randy Crenshaw, President and CEO of Middle Georgia EMC
“The future in rural Georgia looks brighter than ever, and that is in no small part due to the commitment and contributions of dedicated electric cooperatives such as Middle Georgia EMC,” Conexon Partner Randy Klindt said. “We know fiber-to-the-home is life-changing. Now Middle Georgia EMC members will get to experience the power and convenience of lightspeed connectivity for themselves.”
In recent years, Georgia’s EMCs have been aggressively pursuing solutions to help expand broadband. Some, like Blue Ridge Mountain EMC and Habersham EMC, have created affiliates and are already providing high-speed service to members and many are exploring or have formed partnerships with broadband providers. In addition to today’s news, other EMC partnerships and projects were announced recently by Amicalola EMC, Carroll EMC, Central Georgia EMC, Colquitt EMC, Diverse Power, Southern Rivers Energy, Tri-County EMC, and Washington EMC, resulting in expanded access for more than 120,000 Georgia homes and businesses.