News

Governor Perdue Announces Broadband Award for SGRITA

SGRITA

SGRITA

STATE OF GEORGIA
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

Sonny Perdue
GOVERNOR
For Immediate Release Contacts: Office of Communications, (404) 651-7774
Thursday, August 19, 2010

Governor Perdue Announces $13.3 million Broadband Award
SGRITA Awarded Broadband Grants for Southwest Georgia

ATLANTA – Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that the South Georgia Regional Information Technology Authority, SGRITA, has been awarded a $13,327,030 loan and 50 percent grant package through the USDA as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Broadband Infrastructure Program. These funds are matched with SGRITA funds for a total project valued at $14.4 million.
“These awards will assist with a variety of economic development projects in rural Georgia aimed at creating jobs and stimulating new private investment,” said Governor Perdue. “Broadband access is vital in the 21st century. We firmly believe that with the right resources the communities that will benefit from this grant can compete with any other community in the world.”
These funds will allow SGRITA to complete their broadband network to extend world class broadband service throughout Baker, Calhoun, Early, Miller and Mitchell Counties in rural Southwest Georgia. This project includes major fiber construction into the region plus last mile licensed 700MHz 4G wireless deployment to remote rural homes, businesses and farms. Approximately 53,000 people stand to benefit, as do roughly 2,272 businesses and 246 community institutions. In addition to the jobs this project will support upfront, it will provide a foundation for economic growth and job creation for decades to come. This funding announcement is the result of work begun in 2006.
In July 2006, the OneGeorgia Authority awarded an $88,600 BRIDGE grant to the City of Arlington to assist with a five-county regional technology assessment to serve as the basis for the technology development plan for the region.
In November 2007, SGRITA was awarded $2.7 million by the OneGeorgia Authority to build a rural broadband network throughout the five southwest Georgia Counties. The award was the first broadband grant awarded to support broadband infrastructure from the BRIDGE Fund (Broadband Rural Initiative to Develop Georgia’s Economy) which was approved by the governing board of the OneGeorgia Authority in March 2006. Governor Perdue identified the value and need for broadband access during his State of the State address of January 2006.
With these funds SGRITA successfully completed in September 2008 the construction of a 188-mile licensed wireless broadband backhaul network loop across the five counties and connected four of the area school systems plus other local commercial and governmental clients. Through SGRITA, the schools’ clock access speeds have improved from the bottom 3 percent -8 percent in Georgia to the top 1 percent in the world. At present, the schools are using just 6 percent of SGRITA’s capacity allowing the current system to meet the region’s needs for many years.
A backhaul network is designed to carry large amounts of data long distances from one point to another and to connect major users such as the schools and governmental offices. It also serves as the backbone for last mile service to homes and business. With the backhaul network completed, SGRITA continued with plans for rural deployment to homes. However, In February 2009 Congress created the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which included a once in a generation funding opportunity for “Shovel Ready” rural broadband projects. For SGRITA this was an opportunity to greatly multiply the limited remaining funds from OneGeorgia and savings from retail operations.
With today’s funding announcement, all the hard work and dedication by the OneGeorgia Authority, local citizens of the five Counties, the SGRITA Board and employees can now be fully realized.
Today’s announcement continues Georgia’s efforts to expand broadband access that started with the Wireless Communities Georgia Program. Georgia’s strategic approach to the issue of broadband access has made the state highly competitive in the federal funding process.
Governor Perdue began working to bring broadband to rural areas of the state in 2006 when the General Assembly, at his request, appropriated funds to expand wireless broadband access. The OneGeorgia Authority, chaired by Governor Perdue, established a program separate from Wireless Communities Georgia to assist rural communities in establishing broadband networks.
For more information on SGRITA and OneGeorgia, please visit www.sgrita.com and www.onegeorgia.org.