Demand increases for broadband in rural Georgia

Blairsville, Georgia

Rural Georgians cheered when Senate Bill 2 was signed into law in 2019, allowing electric membership cooperatives the ability to deliver broadband to their members. The forty-one, member-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives (EMCs) deliver power to almost half of Georgia’s residents and to 73 percent of the state’s land mass. With pole lines extending deep into the state’s most rural areas, who better to provide Internet access to agriculture, rural business and residents?

EMCs were started in the 1930’s as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal. The large investor-owned power companies would not build power lines into the nation’s farming areas, the return on such a large investment was just not there.  Electricity was vital to farm life so the federal government stepped up with low-interest loans and electric cooperatives were formed.

Everyone agrees that in 2020, (especially during a pandemic) broadband is vital to maintaining quality of life and to provide any hope of rural economic development – perhaps as vital as electricity was in the 1930’s. Rural Georgians expected the EMCs to take up the charge as they had done during the great depression and aggressively use their assets to deliver what amounts to “today’s power”.

As a recent article from Savannah Now states, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There’s still a lot of regulatory issues to be worked out but there’s just as many cultural changes that need to be addressed within many of the Peach State’s EMCs.  Some Georgia cooperatives have taken a progressive approach and have developed plans to get Internet access to their members, others seem content to do what fits within their comfort zones and simply supply electricity. All Georgia EMCs need to take lessons from their more progressive associates and realize that there are more cost-effective ways of delivering broadband in unserved regions besides building hardwired networks.

Kinetx Prime was formed to help bridge the ‘Digital Divide’ and promote technologies and platforms that can be deployed much faster and cheaper than installing fiber optic cables on cooperative’s pole lines in low-density areas. Private LTE using newly-available C.B.R.S frequencies, coming advancements in TV White Space and the Halo Cellular Gateway are all solutions Kinetx Prime offers to bring stable, usable, secure broadband to underserved communities. We salute the EMCs constructing fiber networks, that is the most efficient and future-proof way to deliver Internet access. However, building fiber can take years, our solutions can be deployed today.

Read more about the demand for broadband in rural Georgia from Savannah Now