Augusta Economy

More News | Fort Gordon | Plant Vogtle | Savannah River Site | Editor

Columbia County inks $3.7 million deal with Florida networking company

Sunday, July 28, 2013 6:17 PM
Last updated 8:29 PM
  • Follow Business

Columbia County officials say a $3.7 million deal sealed last week with a network communications company will connect its broadband network to all major U.S. networks.

Tower Cloud Inc., a leading provider of wholesale telecommunications services, has agreed to lease 100 miles of Columbia County’s unused broadband capacity, or “dark fiber,” for up to 20 years.

George Townsend, Tower Cloud’s senior vice president of business development, said leasing Columbia County’s fiber network will provide extra capacity for its clients, which include Verizon. It will also help close the company’s local fiber optic network ring, which includes Augusta, North Augusta and Aiken. The St. Petersburg, Fla.-based company has fiber optic networks across Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

Though Columbia County had already approved the contract, Tower Cloud made it official Wednesday, Townsend said.

Lewis Foster, the county’s Broad­band Utility manager, said the deal allows the county to make revenue from its unused capacity and links the network directly with the outside world.

As part of the deal, Tower Cloud will provide 1GB Ethernet connectivity from Au­gusta to the telecommunications hub in Atlanta, known as 56 Marietta, at no cost. 56 Marietta is a “carrier hotel” where all major telecommunications carriers link to each other’s networks, Foster said.

That alone should attract new business to Columbia County, which desire that type of connectivity.

“It is a real asset for the county for economic development,” Foster said.

Discussing the deal at a recent Management and Finan­cial Service committee meeting, Deputy County Administrator Glenn Kennedy said the agreement puts the county ahead of its timeline.

“The potential that this creates for the county is just enormous,” he said. “In our strategic plan, we had envisioned having a presence at (56 Marietta) and downtown Augusta within three to five years. This is well ahead of that. The potential for future business is pretty significant.”

Tower Cloud has agreed to a five-year lease, with three additional five-year options. Officials said the cash value of the contract is about $1.2 million, with the remainder provided in in-kind services.

Tower Cloud has also agreed to construct about 5,900 feet of conduit for future fiber installations along Mistletoe Road. The county will provide materials for construction.

“What we are trying to do is to lay down the infrastructure for other future businesses,” Foster said.

Staff writer Valerie Rowell contributed to this article.

Comments (12) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
gargoyle
19485
Points
gargoyle 07/28/13 - 09:05 pm
2
0
Congratulations Columbia

Congratulations Columbia County, infrastructure improvements are what brings business and a better lifestyle to county residents.

soapy_725
43947
Points
soapy_725 07/29/13 - 05:51 am
0
0
A return on taxpayer investment. Finally. Thumbs up!!
Unpublished

A return on taxpayer investment. Finally. Thumbs up!!

nocnoc
46955
Points
nocnoc 07/29/13 - 06:41 am
0
0
3.7 Million is a little on the low side

But better than any thing ARC is doing right now.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/29/13 - 09:53 am
0
0
Still on the fence on whether

Still on the fence on whether our local government should be in the ISP business. On the one hand, very healthy infrastructure is not a bad resource. On the other hand, poor economic conditions for private sector created by our government. I tend to think the latter is the more profound point to be made though.

Sweet son
11070
Points
Sweet son 07/29/13 - 12:01 pm
0
0
Maybe a dumb question.

What, if anything, does this mean to a CC taxpayer who is already paying for cable, telephone and internet access from a private vendor?

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/29/13 - 12:24 pm
0
1
nada. It increases revenue

nada. It increases revenue for the county. One would be led to believe this is a positive as there will be less need for taxes from other resources, ala joe taxpayer. I think my property taxes just went up so throw that theory out with the others.

Marinerman1
5255
Points
Marinerman1 07/29/13 - 01:52 pm
1
0
Not An ISP

This does not mean that the County is getting/wanting to be an ISP. What the optic cable does is provide a vehicle to the Comcast/WOW/Verizon to provide access to remote parts of the County that previously would not have been economically worthwhile to attempt. It could also speed up the possibility of having fibre-optic actually to your house (Verizon FIOS), like what is available in Atlanta. A good thing all around.

dichotomy
36091
Points
dichotomy 07/29/13 - 03:09 pm
1
0
Imagine that "City" of

Imagine that "City" of Augusta.......Columbia County actually putting INFRASTRUCTURE out into the RURAL areas of the county......PLANNING for growth.......not lying about future growth that was never coming like George Patty did and TAXING us for it like it was already here.

Like one commenter asked about another article..."What's the difference"..........well, just look at THEIR leadership vs. OUR leadership. The difference should be readily apparent.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/30/13 - 10:00 am
0
0
@ MarMan

So the county is selling access to the internet to a commercial business at wholesale who will sell internet access to the individuals and businesses in the area. And this is not the operation of an Internet Service Provider?

"vehicle to the Comcast/WOW/Verizon to provide access " = Selling for money no?

Unless you are suggesting the county is giving the access to these companies but I know that to be untrue.

Marinerman1
5255
Points
Marinerman1 07/30/13 - 11:38 am
0
0
No David

The County is not providing Internet Access. They are providing a fibre optic cable that Comcast/WOW/Verizon would have never run because it was not financially attractive. By the County providing the "backbone", it will allow one of the named providers to grant Internet Access to rural areas of the County, that otherwise would not have access. Dialup Internet stinks.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/30/13 - 12:40 pm
0
0
I would clarify it this way.

I would clarify it this way. The County is providing access. They are not providing Internet (ISP). Either way, it's 6 and half dozen here.

They are selling a commodity that has an already established market and competitors. They basically edged out using tax dollars instead of allowing private capital to come in on it's own. Why? B/c it would have been a while. I'm not siding with one or the other. It's a great thing for those out in the sticks, but not so great for those who's taxes were used for it and won't see much in the line of return since they are already engaged with an existing ISP.

Basically it amounts to dressing things up to make it look legit, but essentially, it's the government meddling with private sector economics. Nothing you've stated so far indicates anything contrary. Sorry if that doesn't explain it well enough but it's clearly a business transaction imho.

Marinerman1
5255
Points
Marinerman1 07/31/13 - 07:36 am
0
0
Take Two

This fibre optic installation did not cost a single dime of local tax dollars. It was done through a Federal Grant request. The County had a need for a communication loop for backup of their radio system, to interconnect all of the County agency offices -- mostly Sheriff/Fire. While they could've filed the grant and just run what they needed, they had the foresight to run multi-fibre, rather than just single strand. It really is a good thing. And just so you know, I don't work for the County, but am a volunteer for the County EMA office. Now if you want to light me up, just start talking about the new radio system that Clay bought...: - )

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/31/13 - 11:33 am
0
0
Nah, the radios are a horse

Nah, the radios are a horse of a different color.

If it's not local revenue being spent, can't see where it damages the tax-payer. That's cut and dry. The only issue would be the precedent this sets. If it were a roadway or a sewer drain, fine. But now the county is in the business of running fiber, albeit isolated. So when the drop gets severed, they have to come in and pay for repairs (fiber repair is premium), not the customers like Comcast/WOW/Verizon, who normally and rightfully would absorb that ongoing maintenance costs. So outside of it being ideal for the rural of the county and not costing actual dollars, it still inevitably skews the private market, even though it is beneficial to the existing isp's, it's going to make breaking into the business for a startup that much harder b/c existing operations aren't having to compete at the rate they would if they had to pay their own edge-outs.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Turkeys get taste of own medicine

I got up and out of my sickbed so I could write this column because it’s time for the annual Turkey of the Year awards, the highlight of the holiday season.
Search Augusta jobs