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Georgia State Plan, New Bills in Alabama, and Launch in Loveland, Colorado

Emily McPhie

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Approximately 1.6 million residents of rural Georgia currently lack high-speed internet access, but this could change under a new state broadband plan (PDF) released this month, AJC reported. According to Georgia officials, this will have a major impact on schools, hospitals, farmers, and more.

The plan requires the government to map areas in the state that do not have fast connections so that they can be targeted for future funding. However, less than one percent of the funding that would be required the wire the state has currently been approved.

AT&T Spokesman Riley Blount called the plan “an important first step to map the current state of broadband in Georgia,” although he acknowledged that there are still key details left to be resolved.

Alabama bills

Last week, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed two bills related to broadband, Yellow Hammer News reported. HB 400, or the Broadband Using Electric Easements Accessibility Act, allows the use of broadband capabilities within electric easements. SB 90 expands the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund by lowering eligibility for grant funding and broadening state support

“Small businesses all across the state can now expect a fair shot at the global economy,” said Speaker Mac McCutcheon. “It is an exciting time for the education community, entrepreneurs, for rural health workers and patients who will have access to advances in telemedicine and for our farmers who will benefit immensely from broadband.”

More than 840,000 Alabamians currently lack access to broadband, primarily in rural areas. Studies have demonstrated that increased broadband penetration is closely linked to economic growth.

Loveland, Colorado, launch

On Thursday, the city of Loveland, Colorado, launched a broadband internet initiative to bring affordable and fast connections to the entire city, reported the Denver Post. Starting in September, construction will start on installing fiber optics in front of every house and business in Loveland.

The launch follows six years of thorough planning, and City Councilor John Fogle called it “one of the biggest decisions City Council and city staff have made in the history of Loveland.”

The city has historically had great difficulty with internet connectivity. In 2013, an online standardized testing platform crashed, forcing administration staff to work from home. The new high-speed internet will allow the district to offer new classes in technology and robotics.

(Photo for AJC by Jenna Eason.)

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