Governor Brian Kemp signed the rural broadband bill. It gives 41 electric membership cooperatives permission to provide broadband services.
A spokesperson for one of the EMCS, “Jefferson Energy Cooperative,” says right now it’s not economically feasible.
“Providing fiber out to those areas are very costly,” said Steve Chalker. “It is extremely costly, which is why there is no internet service currently.”
Chalker says the obstacles many EMCS face are financial and structural challenges to expand broadband services in those communities.
“It’s not something we can automatically start providing broadband next week,” explained Chalker. “Because of the logistics and the infrastructure.”
He adds even though the bill gives the EMCS authority to sell internet services to rural Georgia, but the companies are non-profit organizations.
That means even to start the project; companies have to apply for grants or look for partnerships.
“So when these third-party vendors come along, we can partner with them and be a partner in this,” said Chalker.
Electric membership cooperatives often serve in areas where major providers haven’t built internet lines. Chalker says companies are asking for patience.
“We don’t know right now because it’s so new,” said Chalker. “We’re looking for ways to be part of the solution. So that’s what we want everybody to know.”
It could cost more than $1 billion to connect the entire state — no word yet on when the first connection will be in place.