Broadband project under way

Fiber optic lines will ring county

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By this time next year, Columbia County could be ringed by more than 200 miles of fiber optic lines capable of providing Internet service to any resident wishing to purchase it.

Columbia County is using a $13.5 million stimulus grant and sales tax money to install 200 miles of fiber optic cable.   Jim Blaylock/Staff
Jim Blaylock/Staff
Columbia County is using a $13.5 million stimulus grant and sales tax money to install 200 miles of fiber optic cable.

For now, though, county officials say they have received little interest from Internet service providers on leasing the use of the broadband network.

"We're really not pushing it," said Columbia County Deputy Administrator Scott Johnson. "We want to get our (first installation phase) in the ground. Once that construction is done, we're going on a full-blown marketing campaign to sell the benefits of the network."

Work started last month on the first phase. About 25 miles of the fiber optic lines will be installed by May. Four subsequent phases will complete the installation by January 2012.

Construction should start this month on a building near the Columbia County Library to house the servers needed to operate the network.

Recently, the county purchased 2.5 acres on Ridge Road in Appling for about $50,000 to build one of seven wireless communication towers as part of the $18 million broadband project.

"That's really going to help, because on that western end of the county coverage is kind of spotty," Johnson said of the tower. It will be used to transmit radio and cellular signals.

"We'll be able to increase our Sheriff's Office radio capabilities and then also might get some interest from cell (phone) companies."

Using the towers, the broadband project will include dozens of free Wi-Fi hotspots such as parks, libraries and community centers.

The project is made possible by a $13.5 million federal stimulus grant from the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program. The remainder of the cost for the network will come from the 1-percent sales tax.

Currently, Internet access using cable lines is available only in areas with dense populations -- Evans, Martinez and Grovetown.

The broadband network offers those same services to rural residents in Appling and Harlem. Also benefitting are schools, which will be given direct access to the fiber optic lines.

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Just My Opinion
6097
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Just My Opinion 01/03/11 - 04:37 am
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As far as the signal towers

As far as the signal towers go, I hope they plan on making them the type that look like trees...you know the ones I mean? The plain, metal towers just look awful. Aesthetically, the "camo" towers would look much better for the county.

wildman
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wildman 01/03/11 - 04:37 am
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Instead of broadband why not

Instead of broadband why not sewer service to the county residents. Think about it.

bclicious
756
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bclicious 01/03/11 - 04:45 am
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Wildman, I am not disagreeing

Wildman,

I am not disagreeing with you, but I think that this project is only being pursued because the federal government is paying for it. I have no doubt that if there was a federal grant paying for sewer service, then columbia county would pursue that as well.

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 01/03/11 - 06:18 am
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Our Federal Government is

Our Federal Government is broke and yet they give 13.5 million for internet service to Columbia County and probably many more counties.

Good for Columbia County but bad for America as a whole...we must get back to the basics as federal tax money should not be going out to projects such as this.

wribbs
474
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wribbs 01/03/11 - 06:59 am
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Competing Internet Service

Competing Internet Service Providers are paying federal income taxes that are funding a project that is in direct competition with them. How is that not illegal?

bclicious
756
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bclicious 01/03/11 - 07:18 am
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Wribbs, I'm not sure, but it

Wribbs,

I'm not sure, but it sounds like this will be a money maker for Columbia County long-term.

DuhJudge
206
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DuhJudge 01/03/11 - 07:22 am
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If Comcast or Knology bid for

If Comcast or Knology bid for the use of the taxpayer paid fiber and offer TV too, then why haven't they already shown interest? Besides I see a very short future for fixed fiber internet access. At home I use my Droid like I am right now.

jones255
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jones255 01/03/11 - 09:11 am
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@ too much time - get a life.

@ too much time - get a life. @Wribbs - It is not illegal. Also, in the western part of the county, Internet access is hard to come by. Comcast, nor Knology are willing to spend the dollars to pull glass, so the county is being proactive, for the benefit of their residents. In addition, there is interest being shown by the area hospitals, that have a presence in the county. @DuhJudge - your Droid is fine, but you only get a small amount for the month, then Verizon will nail you. Read your contract -- don't be surprised next month.

too_much_time
0
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too_much_time 01/03/11 - 09:17 am
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ahhh....yet another deleted

ahhh....yet another deleted post by the forum Nazis. no such thing as free speech when it comes to the AC. @jones255 - my point was it's a waste of money and wrong timing. you get a life!

airbud7
1
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airbud7 01/03/11 - 09:38 am
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DuhJudge/ Wireless 128 Kbps

DuhJudge/ Wireless 128 Kbps to 768 Kbps /Fiber-optic networks 10 Gbps or 40 Gbps
I get 14Mbps with knology cable...
Go to http://www.speedtest.net/ and see what that Droid get's...

follower
59
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follower 01/03/11 - 09:48 am
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I'll admit to not knowing all

I'll admit to not knowing all of the details, but unlike water and sewer, internet access is not a necessity. That federal funds [ie: mine and other taxpayers money] are being used for what seems to be private business, is disturbing.

If there is a market for county wide internet access, private businesses should be the ones taking the risk. If someone decides to live in a remote area, along with the peace and quiet, they also accept some of the restrictions. Are we now going to suppliment their gas expense because they have to drive further to Kroger?

The federal government has no business in private business, and neither does Columbia County. Again, water and sewer are necessities. Internet is not.

airbud7
1
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airbud7 01/03/11 - 10:44 am
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follower/ I was thinking the

follower/ I was thinking the same thing...Also why would taxpayer's want to lease the line? Heck add the servers on one end, connect it to the house on the other end.. pay a small operational fee each month. Why turn it over to a private company thats going to do the same thing For a profit?

jones255
0
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jones255 01/03/11 - 10:54 am
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@follower - Fiber optic cable

@follower - Fiber optic cable DOES NOT equal Internet. Probably a little misleading within the article. Mr. Fetter should have said "capable of providing communication and/or Internet service...". This is multi-strand fiber cable, we are talking about here. Both University Hospital, and MCG are looking into the "communication" capability of a fiber optic infrastructure, circling the county. It has nothing to do with Internet connections. The benefit of the multi-strand cable is that some of the strands COULD be utilized to provide Internet access to the more remote parts of the county, providing Comcast or Knology signs on to connect.

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 01/03/11 - 11:56 am
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justmyopinion. have you seen

justmyopinion. have you seen the giant green toilet bowl scrubber tree/tower thats in north augusta? those things look ridiculous.

too_much_time
0
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too_much_time 01/03/11 - 12:00 pm
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@omnomnom - and you probably

@omnomnom - and you probably would not have noticed it until someone pointed it out to you. would you prefer and nice shiny pole?

follower
59
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follower 01/03/11 - 12:04 pm
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jones225, thanks for the

jones225, thanks for the info. But do you think government should be doing what private industry has traditionally done? AT&T ran lines throughout the country at their expense just as Ga. Power has done. They are regulated by the PSC because of the threat of monopoly. If this is such a good idea, why hasn't private industry done it?

No jabs, just asking.

Iyeman
0
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Iyeman 01/03/11 - 12:32 pm
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It isn't the first time the

It isn't the first time the Government (aka all of us who actually work for a living) has paid to expand the Utilities to rural areas of America...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rural_Utilities_Service

Chillen
17
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Chillen 01/03/11 - 12:38 pm
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Part of the liberal

Part of the liberal agenda.....Internet for all! Run the lines now (at taxpayer expense). Then we pay for the poor & downtrodden to have it later.

We already pay for their housing, their food, their healthcare, their flatscreen, their cell phone, their nails, their utilities, etc. Why not internet & cable too? What the heck, while we're at it, why don't we pay for a nice steak dinner for them twice a week at the finest steak place in town. You, the hardworking taxpayer can sit at home & have rice & beans.

jones255
0
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jones255 01/03/11 - 12:42 pm
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As the article stated above,

As the article stated above, the county needed additional radio communications in the western part of the county. The stimulus dollars were announced, and the IT department of Columbia County saw a good thing. They assembled the Grant Request (way to go guys !), and are now able to not only provide the communication needs of the county (fire, sheriff,forestry...), but got stimulus dollars to pay for it. In addition, they designed enough extra capacity that the county has the potential to derive revenue to maintain the fiber, and provide a county-wide network connection (not Internet !) to concerned businesses. Finally, the capacity is there, so that a Comcast or Knology could lease some fiber strands and provide Internet or cable television to outlying areas of the county. A trifecta ! And BTW: @chillen, you're wrong. Sorry.

vermillion1981
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vermillion1981 01/03/11 - 01:19 pm
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I love my Comcast out in

I love my Comcast out in Grovetown, my internet constantly pulls about 78mpbs down and 7mpbs up (no thats not that powerboost gimmick either)

airbud7
1
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airbud7 01/03/11 - 02:43 pm
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Wow vermillion1981, (78mpbs

Wow vermillion1981, (78mpbs down and 7mpbs up) Im Jealous!!!Definitely Fiber optics in Grovetown☺

iletuknow
8
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iletuknow 01/03/11 - 07:38 pm
0
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Good luck getting Comcast or

Good luck getting Comcast or Knology to base their service on a local government freebie.

usapatriot
0
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usapatriot 01/03/11 - 11:54 pm
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amazing. a few here who

amazing. a few here who champion this cause for their own benefit will be the next to disavow federal govt handouts for others.

internet is not a constitutional right. you have other ways to get that service. my or taxpayers from other states in the USA do not need to subsidize your wants.

this is so typical of the " I want mine & heck with you" mentality. where is the fiscal intelligence America? We cannot afford this. Nearly anything can be justified by anyone needing a service.

This is going to stop.

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 01/04/11 - 02:54 am
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Jones225, of course the

Jones225, of course the county is doing good by going after federal funds and bringing it to the county.

However, the real problem is that tax payers money should not even be up for an option for grants such as this. Our federal government has no busienss taking money from citizens to use for private business projects such as this especially when our government is IN MAJOR DEBT and we can't even afford the basics such as Public Safety or the proper securing of our borders.

Follower...excellent points...

usapatriot
0
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usapatriot 01/04/11 - 04:42 am
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geez, i've mentioned this

geez, i've mentioned this before. take a 2 day vacation to the smokies and see how pioneers carved out a living for their families with only the tools they brought with them. with out public transportation. without FDA food regulations. Without EPA regs on carbon dioxide.

without weight and hours of service regulations. without regulations on where they could build a dam or build a fire.

you cry about what internet is available in what ever part of your county.

GET OVER IT! get a grip. damn! so many words want to spill out to define you whiners. you really have no clue about what is important.

not reality
0
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not reality 01/04/11 - 09:38 am
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Bottom line is that this

Bottom line is that this effort as noble as it is, is going to ultimately fail.For two reasons, one is the network is closed which means it is only in Columbia County, they may say no that they are connected to US Carrier, but US Carrier is only providing the county internet access for it's use instead of AT&T. Second even with MCG and University Hospital leasing some and maybe Knology, and the School System also they will not generate enough revenue to be self sustaining. Comcast will never use this as they fought this as did AT&T. Since when has a government body local or federal, been good at private business? We the county tax payers are now on the hook for what will surely be a "cost" not a "benefit". just saying. And @Jones255 it is obvious you work for this project, let me just tell you this is not the "Field of Dreams" but good luck anyway I really hope it works out and is profitable for the county

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