Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Georgia county breaks ground on fiber optic cable network
Getting a fiber optic cable network can be momentous for a community. However, fiber optic networks are expensive to build. While they can reap great rewards for communities, many need help to get fiber optic projects off the ground.
Columbia County in Georgia recently received such a boost. The federal government awarded it $13.5 million in federal stimulus money to help build a fiber optic network. Another $4.5 million in funding will come from tax dollars.
Columbia County is the only county in Georgia to receive federal funds for fiber optic cable.
The county recently began putting the money to use, breaking ground on the project. Construction crews will spend the next year laying more than 200 miles of fiber optic cable. According to the Augusta Chronicle, about 25 miles of cable will be installed in the first phase of construction, which will be completed in May 2011. Four more phases will follow and installation will be complete by January 2012.
"It's just trying to give our citizens more opportunities, better opportunities, and trying to make things faster and better for Columbia County," said Scott Johnson, the county’s deputy administrator, to WRDW.com. "It gives us the opportunity to connect all of our government buildings, to connect all of our schools. It gives us some opportunity to provide free Wi-Fi, like at our senior centers and our parks."
Once the broadband network is installed, the county will offer services through private companies. "We will put the fiber in the ground and then we'll work with the service providers to allow them to get on our fiber and provide service to other people in the county," said Johnson to WRDW. "Since we're already going to have the fiber in the ground, we will have an opportunity to work with those service providers to get service to people that really have never had it before
The network will provide broadband service to all residents of Columbia County, including those in rural areas. It will also provide high-speed internet to all public school, county facilities, law enforcement and emergency services buildings in the county, the Augusta Chronicle reports.
Rural areas without fiber optic cable often rely on a variety of sources to provide them with high-speed connectivity. Recently, Time Warner began construction on a cable network in Maine. The company is using its own privately raised funds to pay for the project.