According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, more than one-third of the consumers served by Central Georgia EMC (CGEMC) do not have access to broadband. In response to this dire need, Georgia’s EMCs have worked diligently at the Public Service Commission to promote rural broadband expansion.
Many internet providers are now making contingent promises of expansion into “pockets” across EMC territories. They want to install broadband in the more densely populated areas and leave the rest of our EMC consumers to fend for themselves. Their “for-profit” way of doing business will leave many of our customer-owners without broadband.
We understand the need for broadband in the CGEMC territory. That is why we have worked on potential partnerships with eight different entities over the past two years. You might wonder why a partner is needed. The cost of deploying a broadband network is approximately $25,000 per mile, which totals more than $130 million across the 5,300-mile CGEMC system. An investment of this size requires private equity, and possibly public funding, to ensure the financial stability of your cooperative is not put at risk.
We are closer than ever to our goal of making affordable, high-speed broadband available to every CGEMC consumer—without cherry-picking the most densely populated areas like incumbent providers want to do. A network of this magnitude likely will take four years to deploy, so broadband service will not be available everywhere overnight when we are successful in finalizing an agreement. However, be assured that we are working diligently to bridge the digital divide for all CGEMC customer-owners while remaining true to our mission of providing you the highest quality services at the lowest practicable cost.