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Content tagged with "georgia"
Filling in Connectivity Gaps with Open Access Fiber - Episode 554 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher speaks with Keith Quarles, President and CFO of A2D, a fiber-based, open access competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC). A2D stands for ‘Analog to Digital,’ and as Keith explains, represents the infrastructure transition from analog to digital communications.
Chris and Keith discuss A2D’s business model, which focuses on filling in the gaps – serving communities where connectivity is unaffordable or the incumbent has chosen not to upgrade its infrastructure. Keith explains how many gaps still exist, even after the influx of federal funding for broadband. A2D takes a creative approach to building out fiber backbones in these pockets, which involves connecting existing ecosystems like municipalities, school systems, and electric membership corporations (Georgia’s equivalent of electric cooperatives). Keith’s background in real-estate development and training in civil engineering, along with the backgrounds of his three business partners who are also engineers by trade, informs A2D’s strategy and willingness to "just figure things out."
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Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
Increased Wellness and Economic Return of Universal Broadband Infrastructure: A Telehealth Case Study of Ten Southern Rural Counties
In a new report, published in partnership with the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative (SRBWI), the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) Community Broadband Networks Initiative examines the link between high-speed Internet infrastructure, access to healthcare, and the economic implications involved.
The report –“Increased Wellness and Economic Return of Universal Broadband Infrastructure: A Telehealth Case Study of Ten Southern Rural Counties” has particular relevance for those living in rural broadband deserts as it details how universal, affordable, broadband infrastructure would return $43 million per year using telehealth across 10 counties in the Black Belt of Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Read Increased Wellness and Economic Return of Universal Broadband Infrastructure: A Telehealth Case Study of Ten Southern Rural Counties [pdf].
It explains how robust broadband infrastructure could pay for itself in short order and open up untold access to healthcare, educational opportunities, economic development, community engagement, and other benefits along the way. This issue is particularly relevant today, because the BEAD program represents a once-in-a-generation investment in broadband infrastructure, larger than any other federal grant program many times over. While it will solve the issue of access to infrastructure for most rural households, we have significant concerns about affordability - BEAD will lead to new connections, but states have wide latitude as to which ISPs get those funds to build new connections. The national monopolies have a long history of charging more to exactly the communities that can’t pay as much, leaving many households out. The report argues that electric cooperatives offer better and more locally accountable paths to universal, affordable service.
Drawing on academic scholarship and existing telehealth programs at hospitals around the country, the report focuses on an assortment of chronic health ailments plaguing those counties, such as diabetes, chronic respiratory disease (including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, heart disease, heart failure, cancer, obesity, and mental health and then demonstrates the benefits that could come from effective telehealth interventions for each
New Report: Universal Broadband Infrastructure Would Return $43 million Annually to Counties Across Rural Black Belt
In partnership with the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative (SRBWI), today ILSR is releasing a new report that examines the link between high-speed Internet infrastructure, access to healthcare, and the economic implications involved.
The report – “Increased Wellness and Economic Return of Universal Broadband Infrastructure: A Telehealth Case Study of Ten Southern Rural Counties” – has particular relevance for those living in rural broadband deserts as it details how universal, affordable, broadband infrastructure would return $43 million per year using telehealth across 10 counties in the Black Belt of Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.
At a virtual press briefing today, SRBWI leaders and organizers were joined by Dr. Sandra B. Reed of Emory Healthcare; as well as ILSR Senior Researcher and the report’s lead author, Ry Marcattilio, to explain how robust broadband infrastructure could pay for itself in short order and open up untold access to healthcare, educational opportunities, economic development, community engagement, and other benefits along the way.
“It’s easy to miss the connection, but hard to overlook what’s at stake as rural hospitals close and the cost of transportation to get to far-off healthcare facilities presents a real barrier. This is about access to healthcare and Black women being denied the opportunity to take advantage of telehealth. The broadband infrastructure that’s needed for that just isn’t there,” said Shirley Sherrod, SRBWI State Lead for Georgia and Director of the Southwest Georgia Project in Albany Georgia.
Broadband … to Access Longer, Healthier Lives
Kicking off the new year, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s office announced $234 million of the state’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF) will be used to deploy new high-speed Internet infrastructure in the Peach State, courtesy of the American Rescue Plan Act.
The lion’s share of those federal funds, being administered by the state’s broadband office, will be gobbled up by the four national telecom giants operating in the state. The rest of the grant money will be shared by a half dozen electric cooperatives for smaller projects.
The U.S. Treasury Department announced another six states have been approved to receive nearly $1 billion in Capital Projects Funds from the American Rescue Plan to bring new broadband infrastructure to more than 180,000 homes and businesses.
The latest tranche of CPF funds is heading to Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Utah, bringing the total number of states to have been approved for their share of the $10 billion fund to 22 states.
As voters went to the polls yesterday, broadband-focused initiatives and candidates could be found up and down the ballot all across the country.
Alabama voters cast their ballots to decide on a state Constitutional amendment known as the Broadband Internet Infrastructure Funding Amendment. The measure sought to amend the state's constitution "to allow local governments to use funding provided for broadband internet infrastructure under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and award such funds to public or private entities."
That measure passed, garnering a “Yes” vote from nearly 80 percent of Alabama voters. With 73 percent of the vote counted late last night, 922,145 “Yes” votes had been tallied with 251,441 “No” votes.
Also in Alabama, Democratic U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell won her re-election bid to represent Alabama’s 7th congressional district. Sewell, whose district covers a large swath of the Alabama Black Belt, “spent much of her past two years in office bringing American Rescue Plan Act funds to rural Alabama, dedicated to healthcare, broadband access and infrastructure building,” as noted by The Montgomery Advertiser.
The Centennial State is not listed as one of 17 states in the nation with preemption laws that erect barriers to municipal broadband because nearly every community that had a vote has passed it to nullify it. But more communities had to go through that unnecessary process yesterday due to the law known as SB-152 that bans local governments in the state from establishing municipal broadband service absent a referendum.
Known for decades as the "Sweet Onion Capital of the World," tourists are still drawn to the rural farmlands of Toombs County in east central Georgia for the annual Vidalia Onion Festival.
But in early November 2021, officials from the member-owned electric cooperative Altamaha Electric Membership Corporation (EMC), flanked by an assortment of state and local officials, gathered at the sprawling L.G. Herndon Farms to announce the cultivation of a new venture. Through its newly created subsidiary Altamaha Fiber, the 86-year-old cooperative recently started construction of a fiber-to-the-home network to serve its 14,000 members who live in Toombs County and in the six neighboring counties (Emanuel, Johnson, Laurens, Montgomery, Tattnall, and Treutlen).
A 5,000-acre spread where they grow Vidalia onions, greens, soybeans, and corn (with over 1,600 cattle and a trucking company on the property), L.G. Herndon Farms was chosen as the site to make the announcement because the farm also happened to be the first business test customer for Altamaha Fiber.
Fiber-to-this-farm will allow for precision agriculture. And, as reported by The Advance, Phil Proctor, the engineer overseeing network construction, noted an added benefit, especially in an area that prizes college football in the ACC: “The lines coming into this building would allow owner Bo Herndon to live stream the Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech football game in vivid 4k resolution.”
Beyond the Herndon farm, Georgia Public Service Commissioner Jason Shaw spoke of the far ranging benefits of broadband for the region:
Fiber-to-the-home service is on its way to three counties in Southeast Georgia. In July, the Midway-based Coastal Electric Cooperative and Darien Communications – a family owned telephone, cable TV, and Internet Service Provider – announced they were teaming up to build a $40 million fiber network. Once the initial network is up and running, 16,000 homes and businesses in the counties of Bryan, Liberty, and Long will have access to high-speed Internet service.
The partnership has given birth to a new co-op entity with Coastal Electric known as Coastal Fiber Inc., which will lease the infrastructure and begin offering retail broadband service as early as January 2022. Construction began this summer with phase one of the project slated to be rolled out over the next four years.
The new partnership will first target 9,800 homes in Bryan County, 6,200 in Liberty County, and 500 in Long County.
Phase 1 Focuses on Underserved County Residents
“The first phase goal is for customers in Liberty County to begin seeing availability in January 2022. The system will be built out in phases from that point with the total buildout by 2030. The service to Bryan and Long counties will be as we build out in phases. No dates for Bryan and Long have been determined yet,” Coastal Electric Communication Coordinator Bethany Akridge told the Savannah Morning News.
“The service in Bryan County, for example, depends on where you live. There is broadband available in the more populated areas because it is more profitable for companies,” Akridge said. “The reason the cooperative is involved is because there is a need, so we are stepping in to fill that need where those areas are not served or underserved.
Report: Six Community Broadband Networks Demonstrate Diversity of Approaches to Connectivity Challenges
There are more than 600 wireline municipal broadband networks operating across the United States today. And while the ongoing discussion about our information infrastructure by Congress has placed a renewed emphasis on publicly owned endeavors to improving Internet access, the reality is that cities around the country have been successfully demonstrating the wide variety of successful approaches for decades.
In this report, published by the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, ILSR's Sean Gonsalves, Christopher Mitchell, and Jericho Casper profile how six community networks in a diverse range of places stepped up to meet the needs of their communities, bringing faster, more reliable, and more affordable service.
- Huntsville, Alabama
- Conway, Arkansas
- Ocala, Florida
- Dalton, Georgia
- Ammon, Idaho
- Cheshire County, New Hampshire
The projects above, the report shows, run the gamut from municipally owned and operated fiber networks, to cable system upgrades, to last-mile open access networks, to public-private partnerships.
Communities seeking to create a more competitive broadband market and/or target low-income neighborhoods with high-quality, modestly priced service are increasingly building their own networks, whether in partnership with ISPs or on their own. Local governments considering this option have to do their homework to find appropriate consultants, vendors, business models, and more.
But as the communities profiled here demonstrate, there are many models and opportunities to improve Internet access.
The Expanding Potential in Communities (EPIC) Grant deadline funded by Truist Bank and administered by the Internet Society has been extended by two weeks from its original deadline of February 19 in the wake of the weather hammering eligible areas over the last few days. There's nothing like a severe winter event that knocks power out for millions to break up the monotony of a raging pandemic.
Grant applications are now due March 5th by 11:59pm.
Read our original story about the grant program below:
A new grant program funded by Truist Bank's philanthropic initiative and administered by the Internet Society will disburse $1 million in funds to seven community broadband projects over the next year and a half. The Expanding Potential in Communities (EPIC) Grant program is currently soliciting applications, with grants to be disbursed to eligible communities across the southeast United States, including Washington D.C. and Texas, ranging from $125,000-180,000. The program is aimed at kickstarting Covid 19 relief efforts but also providing essential, locally owned broadband infrastructure to unserved and underserved communities.
From the grant program website:
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of broadband Internet connectivity into focus as work, school, healthcare, and more shift online. Internet connectivity is more important than ever in keeping our lives moving . . . The $1 million Expanding Potential in Communities (EPIC) Grant program supports broadband initiatives in the southeastern United States . . . As the administrating partner, the Internet Society will support local broadband expansion by funding complementary Internet connectivity solutions to help alleviate disparities in education, employment, and social welfare that are exacerbated by lack of access to broadband.
See eligibility requirements below: