Coastal Electric Cooperative and Darien Communications are set to expand broadband offerings in Georgia through the creation of a new provider.
The new provider will bring broadband access to an underserved population spread across Liberty, Bryan, and Long Counties, delivering access to an estimated 16,000 homes and businesses.
“In a 21st-century economy, the ability to access high-speed broadband is incredibly important particularly in rural areas of our state,” said Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols. “At the Public Service Commission, we’ve made expanding broadband access a priority, and it’s encouraging to see Coastal Electric and our state’s EMCs continue to show leadership in this area.”
As Georgia continues to grow, rural broadband has become a hot topic due to its necessity and cost of implementation. Coastal Electric Cooperative and Darien Communications plan to invest $40 million to build a fiber-optic network that will create and enhance services in the southeast portion of the Peach State.
The importance placed on broadband expansion is of no surprise, especially in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. The pandemic underscored the importance of reliable internet access to keep businesses and jobs in Georgia.
“With expanded broadband access comes new job opportunities, improved education tools, and access to telemedicine,” said Georgia Governor Brian Kemp at a press conference announcing a similar effort to bring internet access to 80,000 Georgians in the middle of the state.
The effort is a big deal for Governor Kemp, one that will be crucial to his campaign as he seeks re-election in 2022. His tenure boasts of expansion efforts that have brought Internet access to approximately 200,000 homes and businesses across the state. Rural Georgia is key to his 2022 campaign—the area was instrumental in his 2018 election.
Work remains to be done according to the 2021 Georgia Broadband Availability Map. It comes as no surprise to see significant internet access around Georgia’s major cities, and offerings stay strong as the population thins out into North Georgia. But the Southern region remains vastly gray and dull yellow, signifying the importance of a continued fight for affordable broadband connectivity.