Georgia announces its first ‘broadband ready’ county for rural internet

The Oglethorpe County Courthouse in Lexington, Ga. on Saturday, March 12, 2011.

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The Oglethorpe County Courthouse in Lexington, Ga. on Saturday, March 12, 2011.

Georgia has named Oglethorpe County the state’s first “broadband ready community,” a certification from the state for areas that make it easier to build high-speed internet lines.

Oglethorpe, located east of Athens, earned the designation by passing an ordinance requiring the county government to decide whether to approve or deny broadband network projects within 10 days after their applications are deemed complete by the county. The ordinance also limits internet application fees to no more than $100.

The broadband certification means internet projects in Oglethorpe will receive priority for potential future state funding for internet expansion in rural areas, according to a bill passed by the Georgia General Assembly last year.

Georgia Broadband Executive Director Deana Perry said internet is needed in rural areas for small businesses, agriculture, education, health care and overall quality of life.

Internet service is spotty in Oglethorpe, and the 15,000-person county wanted to show internet providers it's prepared to grow, said Amy Stone, the county's planning development director.

“We really saw the broadband ready designation as a way to brand our community as open for business,” Stone said. “We want to share that message as far as we can.”

Local governments can apply for the broadband ready certification through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

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