Carroll Electric Membership Cooperative and SyncGlobal Telecom celebrated the historic milestone of broadband deployment at a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, May 7. The event follows the cooperative’s and telecommunication provider’s previous announcement that the process of building out fiber infrastructure for Phase I had begun earlier in the year.
Elected officials, including U.S. Congressman, Drew Ferguson, and Georgia Public Service Commissioner (PSC), Tricia Pridemore, were in attendance and spoke on the importance of bridging the digital divide in rural areas like that of West Georgia. Long before the pandemic shined a light on the relevance of telecommuting and telemedicine, representatives for the state had been campaigning for such a change to be made for the widespread access of high-speed internet.
“Rural, smaller communities many times are at a competitive disadvantage in relation to suburban and urban areas,” said Congressman Ferguson. “We have seen over the years that a lot of capital does not flow as easily into our rural communities, and it has created an environment where they have fallen behind. With the pandemic, the problems that exist in rural America have been exacerbated.
“Whether it’s healthcare, education or job creation, having broadband is a fundamental component of participating in the 21st century economy,” continued Congressman Ferguson. “This is going to jumpstart the economy and improve the lives of so many Georgians. This project alone will touch 30,000 residents.”
Included in the first 800+ miles of fiber-to-the-home buildout are the cooperative’s underserved Members in parts of Heard, Haralson and Carroll counties. This first phase will serve approximately 10,000 homes and businesses which equates to roughly 30,000 residents. As fiber is hung during the estimated 24-36-month buildout, customers will be connected throughout the process.
“Carroll EMC needed a broadband partner, and we needed someone who had the expertise, the know-how and the infrastructure to be the broadband provider,” said Carroll EMC CEO, Tim Martin. “We were fortunate to have a local provider in SyncGlobal Telecom who are experts. They share one of our seven cooperative principles which is ‘concern for the community.’ Their leaders and workers live and work here, so they are concerned about the future of West Georgia. They were committed to doing it in the right way, and that’s the fiber-to-the-home model.”
As of May, 15 EMCs across the state of Georgia have committed to invest more than $300 million to bring high-speed internet to their Members through partnerships and agreements with internet providers, like that between Carroll EMC and SyncGlobal Telecom, or through direct provision.
“Our organizations know we are missing a critical utility and a vital piece of infrastructure,” said SyncGlobal Telecom CEO, Kyle Williamson. “And that’s broadband. We see exactly what’s needed, and we worked for years collectively putting a project together. We put together a project that’s fiber everywhere. We have a unified goal to bring broadband to every Carroll EMC Member, but we also know that everywhere in Georgia and the country needs it—we want to be an example for other EMCs and providers partnering in their communities.”
Tricia Pridemore and her fellow commissioners at the Georgia PSC have also worked to extend access to fiber optics in rural Georgia. After the approval of Georgia EMC’s proposed One Buck Deal late last year, internet providers can attach to EMC poles for $1 per pole, per year for new attachments.
“The five-member Georgia PSC has been working on the issue of rural high-speed internet attainment since I’ve been a commissioner the past three years,” said Commissioner Pridemore. “We are just one small part of what is making this possible all across the state. With today’s announcement, this is the 15th EMC who is going to be providing high-speed internet to their Members, and I cannot think of a better reason to celebrate.
“The decision that we reached in December of last year was a unanimous Commission decision to support the encouragement of rural broadband attainment with the One Buck Deal,” continued Commissioner Pridemore. “We stand ready at the PSC to work, support, guide and assist.”
As the buildout of Phase I continues, details of Phase II are being designed. It is the combined goal of Carroll EMC and SyncGlobal Telecom to provide a broadband option to all of the cooperative’s Members. All Carroll EMC Members are encouraged to pre-register on SyncGlobal’s soon-to-be-launched rural broadband website. For additional questions or inquiries, they can contact SyncGlobal directly.