Broadband internet could be coming to Dougherty Co.

Video from WALB
Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:09 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Those who live in the unincorporated parts of Dougherty County could be getting broadband internet.

This comes after the county approved submitting an application for the ARP Broadband Infrastructure Grant.

The county is aiming to serve the unincorporated area in Dougherty County, but because it’s in the early stages, officials can’t pinpoint exactly how many people it will help at this time.

Dougherty County Project Engineer Jeremy Brown said the $15 million project will reach about 90% of unincorporated, underserved or not served areas in the county.

“We do target a lot of those areas where they are using satellites for their internet needs and that can cancel that and move to fiber,” said Brown.

The county is partnering with AT&T for the project. Many of the commissioners, including Clinton Johnson, expressed their concerns over the fact that only one company will be offering the service.

“I don’t want corporate or higher institutions to use federal government dollars to drive where they make more money and still leave people in the unincorporated area uncovered,” said Johnson

District 6 Commissioner Anthony Jones also had some concerns.

“I don’t care who puts it in, but I want to make sure at the end of the day, our folks are going to get a reasonable amount of service for a reasonable cost,” said Jones.

Dougherty County Administrator Michael McCoy said they did consider other partners, even the city who already offers broadband, but he said the outcome was AT&T.

“This is the standard most folks, local governments that are submitting these applications for broadband, which is part of the state’s ARP money. We had to find some service provider because most counties don’t offer the service,” said McCoy.

Commissioners came to the conclusion to make sure there is not an exclusivity agreement on the project.

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Christopher Cohilas said that although the county is not guaranteed to get the money, there are some bargaining points to cover in the application. He said broadband would be a huge help with growth and to the people who already live here.

“We are the only folks with a Marine base, that’s a pretty big deal. We capture in our grant application the fact that this will also support folks that work from home at the Marine base. I’m telling you, it’s a very important factor, important to the Pentagon. I think that would be a valuable component,” said Cohilas.

Commissioners also discussed how much the addition would help with things like virtual learning, telemedicine and many other issues that the pandemic brought to light.

Copyright 2021 WALB. All rights reserved.