Georgia’s Electric Membership Cooperatives filed in conjunction with the Georgia Public Services Commission on Oct. 26 its “Georgia Solution” to help expand internet services to rural Georgia homes and businesses.
According to a press release from the Georgia EMC, a decision about using the solution will be made on Dec. 15, which, if passed, will offer incentives to broadband providers if they expand their internet access to rural Georgians who have low-speed or no internet access. These incentives are made possible through the “One Buck Deal” and the “Georgia One-Touch-Make-Ready Program”.
The Georgia EMC said that rural Georgia has suffered without reliable and equal internet access for too long.
“It’s no secret that business, education and individual autonomy are stunted by unreliable connectivity to high-speed internet,” Georgia EMC said. “Access to broadband in rural Georgia has been limited or non-existent since the invention of the internet.”
President and CEO of Georgia EMC Dennis Chastain said that the Georgia EMC is committed to doing its part to solve the digital divide in Georgia.
“The Georgia Solution is one of many ways we are working to bring together the many parties that are needed to solve this critical issue for our state,” Chastain said. “The brave and bold solution offered by the EMCs creates real savings for broadband providers, ensures broadband expansion for those who desperately need it, and ensures consumers’ investment in broadband expansion does not leave this state. It’s one solution to connect all of Georgia, and a true win-win-win.”
The Georgia GMC said that under the “One Buck Deal”, broadband providers will be charged one dollar per pole per year for every EMC pole they attach internet wires and cables to, so long as they are new cables not previously attached to in order to provide internet to those with low speed or no internet service. The rate protects over 4 million EMC member-owners, who help fund the EMC through their electric bills.
“The EMC will honor this low, introductory rate for five years,” The Georgia GMC said. “The ‘One Buck Deal’ ensures that investments made by rural Georgians in broadband stay in their communities.”
The Georgia GMC said these rural areas that need attention are determined by the Georgia Broadband Map, which shows the availability of broadband to every business and home in the state.
The state of Georgia defines high speed internet as a minimum of 25 megabytes per second download and three megabytes per second upload. Any business or home under this is considered unserved.
The “Georgia One-Touch-Make-Ready Program” allows for internet providers to prepare polls for wiring and cables without the need for red tape approvals or lengthy delays.
“Less wait time means greater efficiency, lower costs for broadband providers and more new broadband,” The Georgia GMC said.
Chastain said he is confident that the “Georgia Solution” can finally solve the problem that has plagued rural Georgia for decades.
“EMCs are incredibly proud of the ‘Georgia Solution’,” Chastain said. “We know it can move the needle on broadband because it offers generous financial incentives for broadband expansion and addresses the very concerns that internet providers have expressed. We are excited to partner with cable companies and other internet providers to solve this problem for our members and rural Georgia – once and for all.”