Comcast, through testimony filed in a docket at the Georgia Public Service Commission, has committed to expanding the reach of its high speed broadband network to 3,650 new homes and businesses in Grantville and surrounding areas of Coweta and Troup County.
Comcast will expand broadband should the Georgia Public Service Commission align the state’s electric membership cooperatives’ pole rental rates and conditions to national standards, according to a press release from the city.
This opportunity to incentivize private broadband expansion comes as a result of the Georgia Broadband Opportunity Act, which was adopted by the Georgia General Assembly and signed by Gov. Kemp earlier this year.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for broadband to support distance learning, remote workers, digital commerce and a basic quality of life for those in Grantville,” said Mayor Doug Jewell in the release. “Internet access is a necessity, not a luxury. We can’t afford to wait and see if there is a better option in the future.”
While Coweta County Schools have transitioned to tablets and notebooks for their teachers and students, it is an exercise in futility for the residents of Grantville with their very spotty broadband internet service. Without reliable and viable broadband internet service, Grantville’s residents are being denied opportunities afforded to others in Coweta County and elsewhere, according to the release.
Although served by AT&T and others in the area, residents and businesses are told that no additional connections are available, and they do not plan to add anymore. Likewise, without quality broadband access, Grantville’s economic development efforts are stifled.
The first question received from any new business or industrial prospect is always about connectivity or broadband services. Although the nearby fire station, City Hall, elementary school and library branch have internet services, the majority of Grantville is underserved, according to the release.
“I’m proud to say that should the PSC align pole rental rates and conditions for Georgia’s EMCs to national standards established by the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast will extend its network to 20,000 homes and businesses in Georgia over the next three years,” said Jason Gumbs, senior vice president of Comcast’s Big South Region. “The City of Grantville is among 10 rural broadband expansion projects Comcast has proposed to complete upon the Georgia PSC’s adoption of the Georgia Cable Association’s proposed pole attachment reform.”
Other cable broadband providers are also ready to grow in rural Georgia and have committed, in writing, under oath to the Georgia PSC to serve a total of up to 35,000 homes and businesses in the next three years with the adoption of the GCA’s proposed pole reform.
Jewell and the members of the city council encourage local residents to help make high quality broadband a reality by visiting https://georgiansforbroadband.com/ to learn more about these pro-broadband expansion policies and to make their voices heard at the PSC.
“If the PSC determines current EMC pole attachments rates are excessive and sets a new cost-based formula consistent with the national standards proposed by our expert witnesses, our cable broadband providers are ready to reinvest savings in rural broadband expansion in Georgia,” said Michael Power, executive director at the Georgia Cable Association. “This is what’s best for Georgia – private broadband providers are best positioned to deliver broadband to the most homes, in the least amount of time, at the best value for our citizens and taxpayers.”
Comcast has a long history in Georgia with more than 4,500 in-state employees and $2.9 billion invested in its technology and infrastructure since 2011 to build the fastest, most reliable online experience. The company operates a 53,000-mile network in Georgia and is building 900 new network miles in the state each year. They currently double the capacity of their network every 18 months.
With this local broadband expansion, more than 3,650 homes and businesses in the community will have access to Comcast’s entire suite of Xfinity residential services including data, video, voice and mobile. Comcast Business products would include data, voice and video services.
Comcast’s expansion would also provide families with access to Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, the nation’s largest and most successful broadband adoption initiative for low-income families. Since 2011, Internet Essentials has helped connect 480,000 low-income individuals to the internet in Georgia, according to the release.
The PSC will issue its decision by Dec. 15.