Gigabit Enabled Broadband to Support Business Growth in Americus
Wednesday, August 8th, 2018
Gigabit enabled broadband service is coming to the business community of Americus, Georgia, representing a $2 Million capital investment in infrastructure to support economic development and business growth. Through a collaborative partnership representing three years of effort, Pineland Communications, a subsidiary of Pineland Telephone Cooperative, of Metter, Georgia, announced today the build out of a high-speed fiber network that will span the business footprint of Americus.
Driven by the vision of the One Sumter Economic Development Foundation and its many partners, private and public, the announcement comes as a model solution for many rural Georgia communities looking to provide reliable and affordable service. With so many small communities facing the challenge of dwindling population and economic decline, gigabit service seems unattainable when costs and densities are considered. Pineland, and its leadership, however see this as an opportunity to service a hometown community much like their own.
Pineland General Manager and Executive Vice President Dustin Durden explains the long-standing mission of his company to rural communities, “Here in Americus, we have partnered with our electric cooperative brethren to help bring broadband networks to the areas of Georgia that lack service.” Pineland Telephone was formed in 1951 to provide basic telephone service to underserved areas of Georgia and sees a similar opportunity with broadband. “We continue that mission today providing advanced technology and services, as good, or better, than in many urban areas. As we move into a new era of connectivity, we stand to deliver a pipe of data to businesses where it will be consumed by an infinite amount of devices that we haven’t even dreamed up yet,” Durden continues.
With the new service, the majority of the businesses in the Americus area will have access to gigabit capacity. Service to customers is anticipated to go live in early 2019.
Expanded capacity at an affordable rate for business and industry was exactly the motivation behind One Sumter’s efforts to identify a solution. With a mandate from its over 100 donors across Americus and Sumter County, One Sumter’s earliest priority was to “develop high speed fiber optics in Sumter County.” One Sumter invested $57,000 in a broadband feasibility study, and shared the results of that study and community needs with potential broadband solution partners. That initial investment by One Sumter and the efforts of its local utility and other community partners paved the way for the Pineland broadband project, with no other local funding or any tax payer's money in the project. The Americus and Sumter County Hospital Authority agreed to sell the property for the central office location at 706 E. Jefferson Street to One Sumter at market value to solidify the last step in making the partnership with Pineland possible.
Rural America lacking the broadband service needed to compete globally is on everyone’s radar, with state and national legislation being considered so that solutions can be further developed. Pineland Telephone is at the forefront of those solutions in Georgia selecting Americus as one of its pilot communities to offer gigabit service—largely because of the initiative taken by the community through its efforts with One Sumter. Utility partners locally and at the state level worked together to make this pilot connection possible. Sumter Electric Membership Corporation, Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, Georgia System Operations Corporation, and Georgia Transmission Corporation all came to the table.
Their approvals and support provided a unique solution that is a win for the business community of Americus and Sumter County, allowing the Sumter County Development Authority and Sumter County Chamber of Commerce to market their hometown as a Smart Rural Community and Gig-Certified Community immediately.