After years of hitting dead ends in securing broadband for the rural part of Morgan County, county commissioners signed off on up to $1 million in funding that expands broadband access to up to 1,600 residences that currently do not have broadband access.

“We are making progress,” said Morgan County Commissioner Chairman Philip von Hanstein.

County Manager Adam Mestres presented an agreement with Charter Communications at the regular meeting of the County Commission on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

“Because of this agreement, we are going to give a very large portion of the county the ability to purchase broadband in the near future,” said Mestres.

Under the new agreement between Morgan County government and Charter Communications, the county has agreed to pay $588 per passing for the infrastructure necessary for each residence.

“This is a great investment,” said Mestres, who noted the total cost per passing is about $4,000 for each residence.

According to Mestres, there are at least 800 residences in the Charter Communications service area that do not have broadband. There could be up to as many 1,600 homes. Most of the residences are located in the Rutledge area, and north of Madison’s city limits.

“The floor on this investment is about $470,000 for the 800 residences. Under this agreement, it could go as high as 1,600 residences for $1 million from us,” explained Mestres.

According to Mestres, the total cost of the broadband expansion will cost around $6 million with Charter Communications bearing the brunt of the cost through funding provided to them by the federal government. Mestres noted that the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up efforts across the country to provide broadband access to rural areas.

“This is something we already knew...but the need for school at home and digital learning and how many communities were not ready for that. You can’t do remote learning if you don’t have access to reliable internet. That really propelled the conversation we are having here today,” Mestres.

According to Mestres, more federal and state funding has been allotted to expand broadband access under COVID-relief measures, making it possible for companies like Charter Communications to bring broadband access to rural areas. Charter Communications received Rural Digital Opportunity funds and won a service area in Morgan County during an auction between service providers.

Charter Communications is expecting to complete the infrastructure build out by March 2023. Mestres also noted Central Georgia EMC is in the process of engineering access to their service area in Godfrey and near the lake, hoping to offer broadband service by December 2022.


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