A rural power company is planning to begin offering internet service, the first to do so since a Georgia law passed last year allowed electric membership corporations to also sell online access.
Diverse Power, which provides electricity to about 3,300 members in southwest Georgia, will start with about 600 internet customers through its pending purchase of the South Georgia Regional Information Technology Authority.
More customers will be added as the region’s internet network expands, Diverse Power CEO Wayne Livingston said.
“Internet access is no longer a want but rather a need,” Livingston said. “Broadband is as essential today as electricity was in the 1930s when we started putting up power lines.”
Farmers especially need internet access to be able to manage their crops and businesses, he said.
Two other EMCs in North Georgia, Blue Ridge Mountain EMC and Habersham EMC, already offered internet service before the Georgia General Assembly expressly allowed it last year.
But Diverse Power will be the first EMC to provide internet under the process outlined in state law.
Internet access will be offered through an affiliate of Diverse Power called Kudzu Networks. The legislation allowing EMCs to provide internet prohibits cross-subsidization between electric and broadband customers.
Approval for Diverse Power’s internet plan is pending with the Georgia Public Service Commission.
Diverse Power was the only bidder for the purchase of the South Georgia Regional Information Technology Authority, which offers internet in Baker, Calhoun, Early, Miller and Mitchell counties. The terms of the pending purchase haven’t been disclosed.