Rural broadband must be priority

Internet connectivity has disconnected our communities. Contradictory, I know. But as cities and counties in metro Atlanta and other metro areas enjoy high-speed internet, and can even choose between numerous providers, our rural communities either completely lack access or find a lack of choices and high prices.


The impact of this disparity is startling. In a world that is no longer defined by bricks and mortar, access to the superhighway of high-speed broadband is critical. No Georgian – in any corner of our state – can afford to miss the boundless opportunities technology provides.

Rural broadband is an economic issue. Businesses will not locate in areas without adequate broadband, and existing enterprises are inhibited by a lack of high-speed access. One example is a business owner in the north Georgia mountains who thought that he had paid his taxes online, but months later was assessed late fees because the Internet connection failed, and now may be forced to close his business.

However, I recently visited with a pecan farmer in Ocilla who has grown his business ten-fold by infiltrating the Chinese marketplace. This growth would have been impossible without the instant connectivity of the Internet.


Rural broadband is an education issue. The Internet has revolutionized education by allowing students to learn in ways that redefine traditional textbooks and expanding imaginations to dream the impossible. Our children must be afforded access to a world-class education regardless of their hometown’s population.

Simply, rural broadband is a quality of life issue. All Georgians deserve access to high-speed Internet so they can earn, learn and live in the 21st century.

We have done extensive studies – specifically through the Joint Study Committee on High Speed Broadband Communications Access for all Georgians – to develop legislative solutions.

Personally, I have done extensive research to understand the avenues by which other communities in our state and nation have extended broadband infrastructure to include rural regions. I have studied the co-op model that has been a success story in Sibley County, Minn., and many public/private partnerships, such as in Westminster, Md., to examine if these models could work in Georgia.

Just this week, I met with an assembly of cable executives and then visited local leaders in our own community of Thomasville to learn about their successful broadband initiative.


I have a bold vision and a lofty goal. We will build out our broadband infrastructure so that every single community in this state has access to high-speed Internet. This will be a monumental undertaking, and an issue of this magnitude will require relentless executive leadership from our next governor. As a longtime businessman, I fully understand that a project of this size will require immense investment and focus.

I will continue to lead on rural broadband. I want every business and every citizen in Georgia to have access to high-speed Internet. The first step is exploring public private partnerships and other options in order to ensure that fiber-optic connections are available to every single community. That access then can be easily extended to a house or business at a specified cost.

I believe in a Georgia that isn’t defined by obstacles, but is resolute in turning obstacles into opportunities. However our broadband infrastructure is built out, all Georgians will get access to broadband. The Internet is essential to our continued growth, and I am committed to connecting every Georgian to the prosperity of the 21st century.

To those who think my vision is impossible: Just Google our success in a couple of years – I guarantee you’ll be able to in all Georgia communities.


The writer has been Georgia’s lieutenant governor since 2007.

Dee STAFFORD 5 months ago
And the cost to taxpayers is how much?  Were not some of the taxes by Gore, Obama and others supposed to go for this?  Are we still paying a tax on our phones to pay off the WWI debt?
Val White 5 months ago

I agree all should have a means to access the internet, but the cost should be  borne by those who need to have the infrastructure put in place.

Dee is absolutely correct.  BHO promised ALL would have access but it never happened.  What happened to the funds collected and why is it still an issue?  Another promise BHO broke and more unaccounted for taxpayer money.

Jerry Whitcomb 5 months ago
"I have a bold vision and a lofty goal."

That is politician speak for "hold on to your wallets 'cause it's going to cost a bundle".

Cagle should not mislead us. I basically agree with the fact that we need to build out our internet infrastructure. But don't try to tell us that it's because kids need to do their homework.

Internet is already available to EVERYONE....EVERYWHERE.....with an adequate quality of service for browsing, research email, etc. 

I have used cable internet. Worked well but would go down frequently and always 2 to 3 days to get a service call. And calling customer service was ALWAYS a nightmare. The cost was average to high depending on whether it was bundled with TV service or not.

I have used Hughesnet satellite internet. Works ANYWHERE you can see the sky from Mexico to Alaska. It was a LOT more dependable than cable internet. I even carried it with me in my camper. Average cost. Yes, it had a limited amount of data and was a little slow, but still worked well with adequate data for browsing, shopping, research, email, bill paying, etc. 

Now I use a Verizon MiFi device. I've never been any place I didn't have a connection...although I am sure they exist especially out west. Better speeds and more bandwidth than satellite and just a bit higher cost, I''ve been using a Verizon MiFi here at the house for 5 years now and it has NEVER been down (knock on wood).

So......the internet is already available everywhere......but the real push here is for high speed internet to support businesses and industry........and the average household consumer will be asked to subsidize it with tax dollars.. 

Not necessarily a bad thing. The consumer will get access to the improved high speed service....probably at a reasonable monthly cost. But there will be a lot of unseen costs in the huge amount of tax dollars spent to build out the infrastructure. 

Just don't blow smoke up my bee-hind and tell me it's so little Johnny can do his homework. He can do that anywhere already for about $79 a month. 
William O. Darby 5 months ago
"I have a bold vision and a lofty goal."
Code for, I'm running for governor in the next election and I'd appreciate  YOUR VOTE.


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