Government

More News | | | Editor

Federal funds could improve broadband access for residents of 13-county area

  • Follow Government

Area governments are working together in seeking federal money to pay for increased access to broadband or high-speed Internet access.

Chris Bailey of Comcast, one of a handful of companies that provide Internet service, works in the company's nerve center.  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Chris Bailey of Comcast, one of a handful of companies that provide Internet service, works in the company's nerve center.

The CSRA Regional Commission reports that 54.5 percent of area households have no broadband access, according to data from ESRI Business Analyst.

Based on these findings, the commission and the CSRA Unified Development Authority are applying for federal stimulus funding to improve regional broadband access, said Andy Crosson, the commission's executive director.

They are applying for funds through the National Telecommunications Information Administration's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. The grant application is due March 15.

"I call it a fairly aggressive project in that all 13 counties in the region have agreed to work together to try to design a middle mile fiber optic ring that would get broadband access to rural areas, certainly underserved," Crosson said.

It will be a public-private partnership to reduce infrastructure costs and increase availability of service, said Lewis Foster, the IT manager for Columbia County.

Federal funding of up to 80 percent of the project cost is available. The project will provide broadband access to libraries, hospitals, community colleges, universities and public safety institutions, Crosson said.

"We're trying to work together as a community to stimulate some competition. You'd have multiple choices for the whole area as far as providers. Right now, we're limited," Foster said.

Many communities in the 13-county area still use dial-up Internet service. For areas that do have broadband access, the service is so expensive that average families can't afford it, Foster said.

"There's actually a tremendous amount of federal money for broadband. Our goal here ... is to serve rural America," said Bartel Kendrick, a spokesman for the Broadband Recovery Act.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act appropriated $7.2 billion in stimulus funds and instructed the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service and the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications Information Administration to expand broadband access across the nation. The goal is to increase jobs, spur investments in technology and infrastructure, and provide long-term economic benefits.

The Recovery Act has authorized the Federal Communications Commission to create a National Broadband Plan that ensures that all people in the United States have access to broadband capability, according to information at www.broadband.gov.

Broadband service provides higher-speed data transmission and access to the highest quality Internet services, such as streaming media, voice over Internet protocol and interactive service. Many of these services require the transfer of large amounts of data that might not be technically feasible via dial-up service providers.

Private providers already offering broadband in the Augusta and Aiken area include Comcast, Knology and Atlantic Broadband.

Broadband access in the Augusta-Aiken area

The CSRA Fibernet Cooperative project has determined the 13-county area is underserved by broadband because 40 percent of households or less are broadband subscribers. Twelve of the counties stand on their own as underserved. Overall, the entire 13-county area is underserved with 54.5 percent of all households in the region having no access to broadband.

County Adult population Broadband access* Percent adult population Adult population underserved Percent underserved
Burke16,6495,17431.111,47568.9
Columbia85,68354,42763.531,25636.5
Glascock2,11256826.91,54473.1
Hancock7,5831,88324.85,70075.2
Jefferson12,2603,44228.18,81871.9
Jenkins6,3741,76627.74,60872.3
Lincoln6,5551,52223.25,03376.8
McDuffie16,1764,85030.011,32670.0
Richmond147,55368,12346.279,43053.8
Taliaferro1,47541928.41,05671.6
Warren4,4031,21327.53,19072.5
Washington15,9884,67829.311,31070.7
Wilkes8,0532,44230.35,61169.7
      

*Broadband access indicates DSL or cable access.

Source: Andy Crosson, executive director of the CSRA Regional Commission

Comments (26) 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.
Dixieman
17565
Points
Dixieman 03/01/10 - 04:21 am
0
0
Wow, look at the huge margin

Wow, look at the huge margin by which CC leads the league!

Riverman1
94239
Points
Riverman1 03/01/10 - 05:18 am
0
0
I suspect there are other

I suspect there are other factors at work in Richmond Cty. It is too urbanized not to have broadband almost everywhere.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 03/01/10 - 05:44 am
0
0
Richmond County is a subsidy

Richmond County is a subsidy area. Most "families" aren't willing to spend the extra $65/month for the broadband and it doesn't come with their medical/housing/food allowance/spending money check.

OIC
25
Points
OIC 03/01/10 - 06:32 am
0
0
Wasted tax dollars!

Wasted tax dollars!

fatboyhog
2104
Points
fatboyhog 03/01/10 - 06:56 am
0
0
I did not know that supplying

I did not know that supplying internet service to the citizens was a government function. Why are my tax dollars paying for this service? This is lunacy. Next we'll be funding computers for the "less fortunate." Why do I have to pay if others get it free on my dime?

roebling
25
Points
roebling 03/01/10 - 07:02 am
0
0
"...the service is so

"...the service is so expensive that average families can't afford it, Foster said." AT&T DSL starts at $19 per month. Windstream offers high-speed DSL, cable tv companies all offer bundles of TV, phone and high speed internet. Now cellular phone companies are getting in the business, all with private investor money. Satellite companies HughesNet and WildBlue offer internet anywhere at prices lower than subscription TV. Advocating government borrowing to give away internet service is akin to declaring economic war on free enterprise, private investment and on capitalism.

momof2heads
0
Points
momof2heads 03/01/10 - 07:43 am
0
0
Government funding for the

Government funding for the internet (which is a luxury, not a necessity) when services for those with special needs are being cut?? Does anyone else see a problem here???

KNECKBONE
26
Points
KNECKBONE 03/01/10 - 07:45 am
0
0
why is comcast going to

why is comcast going to norton.mcafee was great

peonynut
2
Points
peonynut 03/01/10 - 08:03 am
0
0
They need to get Comcast

They need to get Comcast perfected before they worry about allowing others in. On second thought maybe that would give Comcast the incentive to provide better service. We sure wish we had another option besides Comcast.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11293
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 03/01/10 - 08:17 am
0
0
There is a better option than

There is a better option than Comcast. I use AT&T DSL and DirectTV satellite.. Never a problem since I switched. Before the switch I was calling Comcast at least once per week with outages and lack of service!!

deekster
24
Points
deekster 03/01/10 - 08:23 am
0
0
"Welcome to Dysfunction

"Welcome to Dysfunction Junction". Trains everywhere!!! We even have an sweet "Uncle Joe".

deekster
24
Points
deekster 03/01/10 - 08:30 am
0
0
Thanks to AL " I'm feeling

Thanks to AL " I'm feeling hot" GORE everyone with a phone is paying for "community communications". A right guaranteed by the Constitution. Look on your phone bill. The "government" even sent "phones" to every residence that did not already have a phone. Even to homes with no phone service. Next "laptops" will be a "Constitutional Entitlement". Educate the populace to the "Never Ending List of Government Services" to which they are entitled. Empower them to receive said services, thereby created and unsustainable drain on the USA economy. Destroy the USA economy.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 03/01/10 - 08:35 am
0
0
What in the HE$$ is a the

What in the HE$$ is a the CSRA Unified Development Authority? I have never heard of them. They claim they are trying to get broadband to Librarys, Hospitals, Colleges, Universitys, police and fire departments. I dare say I find that to be humorous. I doubt if one would find a single instance where they don't have high speed internet anywhere in Georgia. Sounds like Comcast and the others are getting ready for some Corporate welfare. If the project is to provide access for the stated institutions, why are they including households? Where did they come from, who appointed them, who funds them? Another great example of why our budget needs some sunshine. How many other authorities are out there, that no one knows about?

Ayetidiosi
2
Points
Ayetidiosi 03/01/10 - 09:36 am
0
0
CBBP: Never a problem if you

CBBP: Never a problem if you cut the branches the technician recommends cutting, right?

Newsreader
11
Points
Newsreader 03/01/10 - 10:05 am
0
0
It is funny that they mention

It is funny that they mention the "CSRA" and Atlantic Broadband in this article, but it about 13 counties in Georgia. South Carolina has a fiber backbone "public-private partnership" and it has owned middle mile fiber through Aiken, Edgefeild, and Allendale counties for at least 5 years. It does serve schools, hospitals, local government facilities, community colleges, and provides links between the different telecommunications companies offering flexibility and competition, with consumer choice. Most of this fiber was paid for by cigarette tax money and its upkeep is paid for by the users and the telecoms. As for providing the last mile or broadband to the home, it does not directly involve this private public partnership, but it does assist those local telecoms by providing interconnection. I surely hope the partnerships work in Georgia, but I am sorry that I will pay for it through my federal tax dollars. Maybe there is a similar "authority" trying to provide the rural customers in South Carolina with this consumer broadband, but I have not heard anything about that possiblility. Maybe it has something to the color of South Carolina when shown on the news channels a few Novembers ago. But I believe Georgia and South Carolina were the same shade of red.

jb1234
0
Points
jb1234 03/01/10 - 03:13 pm
0
0
Deekster, your act is getting

Deekster, your act is getting stale, especially since you just copy and paste the same comments to about 30 different articles...

Like Newsreader said, I find it odd that Aiken, Edgefield, etc. are not even a part of this 'CSRA' Regional Commission, last I checked, weren't those of us across the river a part of the CSRA as well?

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 03/01/10 - 03:39 pm
0
0
This is the not the 'REAL'

This is the not the 'REAL' CSRA. This is only the GA side of the CSRA. The CSRA is 18 counties. The SC 5 counties are Aiken, Edgefield, Allendale, Barnwell, and Mccormick.

How can you leave Aiken county off? Aiken county is the second largest county(population) in the CSRA.....

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 03/01/10 - 04:00 pm
0
0
South Richmond county,

South Richmond county, Hephzibah, and Bltye are very rural. South Augusta still has alot of rural parts. Doug Barnard pkwy where the airport is. Hwy 56, Tobacco rd btw peach orchard and the airport, around Goshen, Willis Foreman Rd, deans bridge after it passes tobacco rd heading towards burke county before it turns to Blythe, peach orchard after it intersects tobacco rd heading towards the Hephzibah city limits.

Blythe is very very rural. If you ever rode on deans bridge rd when it passes tobacco rd ft gordon gate. That takes you to Blythe. Blythe is like 20 minutes drive after that. Hephzibah city limits is very rural. Im not talking about the places btw tobacco rd and Willis foreman with a Hephzibah address. The city limits of Hephzibah are south of Willis Foreman heading into Burke county. South Richmond county is very rural. Hwy 56 after it passes goshen rd and after Doug Barnard pkwy intersects with tobacco rd.
http://www.augustaga.gov/DocumentView.aspx?DID=2047

baronvonreich
1
Points
baronvonreich 03/01/10 - 04:37 pm
0
0
More wasteful spending of

More wasteful spending of taxpayer money. It isn't about tax revenue. It is all about ridiculous spending.

corgimom
38706
Points
corgimom 03/01/10 - 08:52 pm
0
0
Do you think that Augusta's

Do you think that Augusta's high poverty rate has something to do with the percentages? Or are taxpayers supposed to provide that to welfare recipients too?

jb1234
0
Points
jb1234 03/01/10 - 10:07 pm
0
0
Corgimom (among others), I

Corgimom (among others), I believe that the purpose of this initiative is to provide ACCESS to broadband services. The article says that 54% of people in that area don't have access to broadband service, meaning that even if they WANT to get it, they CAN'T because it's not available where they live. I had the same problem where I live in Aiken County up until a few years ago, I was in a dead zone, people a mile or so up the road from my house could get Atlantic Broadband or AT&T, and people a mile or so down the road could get Comcast or AT&T, but I couldn't get any of them (even though I asked). But Atlantic BB eventually extended their service area and now I have a lovely high speed internet connection.

So before you all start blaming it on all the poor people in Richmond County, read the article again. There's a big difference between having access to something and choosing not to take advantage of it, and actually wanting something but not being able to get it because it's not offered where you live. The purpose of this initiative is to make the service available to people who want it but currently don't have access to it because the infrastructure isn't in place.

BuckeyeInGA
114
Points
BuckeyeInGA 03/01/10 - 11:37 pm
0
0
Could someone please reveal

Could someone please reveal the names of members of these two groups - CSRA Unified Development Authority and CSRA Regional Commission? Thanks!

brayton99
0
Points
brayton99 03/02/10 - 01:19 am
0
0
Maybe access should be

Maybe access should be limited to the Democrats, as the repubs rejected the stimulus package. I say, give the access to those who supported the stimulus, and let the others fend for their own.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 03/02/10 - 01:36 am
0
0
I agree with brayton. Only

I agree with brayton. Only let the Dems pay for the stimulus and reap the benefits. Allow the Repubs to suffer without the government "help".

disssman
6
Points
disssman 03/02/10 - 06:37 am
0
0
Buckeye you probably will

Buckeye you probably will have about as much luck finding out their najmes as you would find out where their budget is. No one in river city cares about those type questions. They are simply too involved with trying to discover cute little names for the President. Bottom line, as long as no one cares, the commission will do as they please. Just like paying huge prices for land in another section of the paper. Keep them in office, because lodr knows if they had to work, they would be in trouble.

Techfan
6462
Points
Techfan 03/02/10 - 08:15 am
0
0
cliff/patricia/whippingpost:W

cliff/patricia/whippingpost:Wow, just think how less congested the government roads, parks, historical sites, offices, etc. will be since you Repubs won't use them out of principle.

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Christmas Eve rains to dry up

If Wednesday seemed particularly wet and dreary, you would be right. The day broke the record for the wettest Christmas Eve that Augusta has ever had.
Search Augusta jobs