Lack of broadband in rural communities across Georgia has long been a problem for residents. Now more than ever, the issue is having harmful effects on Georgians living in unserved communities. With life now becoming centered on online classes, health appointments and other daily tasks that have been required to transition to interaction through a digital device; the need for rural broadband expansion has never been greater.

Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation authorizing the state’s electric membership corporations (EMCs) to deliver broadband service to their customers. Luckily, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has begun rolling out the rules that will govern the deployment of broadband services by the EMCs. In order to do so, the EMCs must submit a “cost allocation manual” that must be approved by the PSC; LaGrange-based Diverse Power was the first to be approved.

The state House of Representatives passed a bill in March that could reduce the fees Georgia’s electric membership corporations (EMCs) charge cable and telecom providers to use their utility poles to deploy broadband services to consumers at a reasonable rate. The bill will move to the Senate when lawmakers reconvene and will lead to expanded broadband for thousands in unserved areas of the state, if passed.