Oconee Co to invest in internet upgrade

20-year partnership

Oconee County Commissioners, in a town hall this week in Watkinsville, said they will spend $4.5 million in an effort to improve internet connectivity in Oconee County.

From the Oconee Co government website…

On October 6, 2020, the Oconee County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement with Smart City Capital to bring expanded broadband coverage to Oconee County.

Deficiencies in the availability of broadband service have had a notable impact on both residents and businesses in Oconee County, as commerce, communication, education, and entertainment have come to depend heavily on access to high-speed internet. These deficiencies were established as a priority to be addressed in the county’s strategic plan, and a feasibility study was commissioned in 2019.

The contract with Smart City Capital creates a 20-year partnership agreement with Oconee County to bring high-speed internet access throughout the county, including areas without adequate coverage. An 80-mile fiber ring and over 540 miles of fiber will be built out over an estimated 2.5 years. The contract also includes strategic tower locations to broadcast wireless internet with the ability to co-locate cell service providers, provide redundancy, and improve public safety coverage. This infrastructure will result in speeds of up to 10 gbps for residential and business service and a minimum of 50 mbps for wireless internet.

Oconee County will contribute $4.5 million toward this project, which will be funded by the 2021 SPLOST, pending approval. In addition to Smart City Capital, other partner organizations in this initiative are Point Broadband as the service provider, Progressive Communications as the network builder, and Nokia and Infinity Technology Solutions as the technology providers. At the end of the 20-year partnership agreement, all assets will revert back to Oconee County, at which time the county can choose to continue the partnership or to form its own utility.

“We’re excited to join with Smart City Capital to help provide a vital service to the county,” said County Administrator Justin Kirouac. “This project was identified by the Commissioners as a priority on the Strategic Plan, and the pandemic, virtual learning, telemedicine, and teleworking have only reinforced the importance.”

“We are blessed to be able to provide an answer for one of the biggest problems in Oconee County,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell. “Working with the private sector, this solution will enhance the quality of life for our citizens.”

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