Statewide Broadband access in Georgia is essential for our state’s continued economic development and growth. Georgia is the best state in the nation to do business, and the Georgia Broadband Opportunity Act (HB 244) will help solidify this position. HB 244 will provide broadband access for communities across the state by ensuring communications providers will have fair rates and processes to use infrastructure that is already in place. HB 244 would allow private-sector broadband providers to attach to utility poles owned by electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) at a fair rate established by the Georgia Public Service Commission — similar to what the FCC does for investor-owned utilities like Georgia Power. Currently, it costs 3-4 times more to attach to EMC utility poles than other utility poles, blocking broadband access to thousands of Georgians in rural communities across the state. HB 244 would create the opportunity for Georgia to establish a statewide, level playing field and an accessible rate for broadband investors to provide access to many more rural Georgians.
Who Stands to Benefit from Lower Broadband Deployment Costs
- Rural Georgians — residents, businesses, students, healthcare providers & educators
- Small business owners looking for online platform options with their business model
- Homeowners, developers, builders and realtors — the availability and access to high-speed broadband increases values for all properties
- EMC members themselves who gain broadband services at home & in the office; includes access to smart home technologies, enhanced security features, competitive telephone or voice offerings and video service offerings from several entertainment companies in addition to the provider (i.e. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.)
- Local governments & tax digests (i.e. ability to offer online government services like billing and information & online shopping)
- Dozens of broadband providers that will be able to deploy under lower and fairer cost models from small, rural & coop telephone companies to AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Cox and Mediacom to new entrants like Google or Habersham Electric Coop.
Below are a few Georgia organizations that have endorsed HB 244 for passage to correct the rates hampering critical deployment on facilities like utility poles in Georgia and encourage faster broadband deployment in Georgia: