More rural Georgians are expected to gain access to high-speed internet under a private-sector partnership announced this week by Conexon Connect.
Conexon Connect is collaborating with Middle Georgia EMC to provide broadband access to nearly 5,000 homes and businesses in Dooly, Houston, Macon, Pulaski, Turner, Wilcox and Ben Hill counties.
“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,” Middle Georgia EMC President and CEO Randy Crenshaw said. “Connect is making it possible for our cooperative to deliver this vital service at last. We are ready to show them all the opportunities that open up in a more connected community.”
Fiber broadband provider Conexon plans to design and build a 1,900-mile fiber-to-the-home network in the seven counties. The $36.7 million project will provide high-speed internet access within the next two years, starting in the first quarter of 2022.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 2 in 2019 to allow electric membership corporations and their affiliates to provide broadband internet services. Other partnerships have formed since the legislation passed, connecting thousands of other Georgians, officials said.
Washington EMC announced its partnership with Conexon Connect on April 16. It will connect more than 12,000 homes and businesses in Baldwin, Emanuel, Glascock, Hancock, Jefferson, Johnson, Laurens, Warren, Washington and Wilkinson counties.
Tri-County EMC announced last month the formation of a new broadband provider, Tri-CoGo, in middle Georgia. Tri-CoGo, with the help of Conexon, will provide high-speed internet service to 22,000 Georgians in Baldwin, Bibb, Jasper, Jones, Morgan, Putnam, Twiggs and Wilkinson counties, officials said.
Kemp and officials announced a partnership in February between the Central Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, Southern Rivers Energy and Conexon to provide broadband internet access to 80,000 homes and businesses, serving 18 counties.
The projects will result in capital investments of about $300 million, officials said.
Georgia’s amended fiscal year 2021 budget included $20 million in rural broadband grants for 2021 and $10 million each year going forward.
“The change that fiber broadband is going to bring to so many individuals and families in so many rural communities in Georgia is exciting,” Conexon partner Randy Klindt said. “We are thrilled to have Middle Georgia EMC joining our other Georgia cooperatives as part of our team and contributing to a shared vision and future powered by fiber.”
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Nyamekye Daniel is a regular contributor to The Center Square. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times.