MIDWAY, GA – Efforts to provide needed broadband service to Georgians took a step forward as PSC Commissioner Tim Echols and representatives from Coastal Electric Cooperative and Darien Communications made an announcement on Colonels Island today. Officials announced the formation of a new broadband provider in Southeast Georgia, Coastal Fiber, Inc., which will offer high-speed internet service to 16,000 homes and businesses in Liberty, Bryan and Long counties.
This project will include a capital investment of nearly $40 million by Coastal Electric and partner Darien Communications to build a fiber network that will be leased to the cooperative’s broadband affiliate, Coastal Fiber, Inc., to provide retail broadband service. The project will begin immediately with plans to complete phase one in four years, with the first customers connected as early as 2022.
“Today’s announced broadband project by Coastal Electric Cooperative will have a significant impact on hard-working Georgians by providing new job opportunities, improved education tools, access to telemedicine, and more,” said Governor Kemp. “I know this project will have a direct impact on the lives of Southeast Georgians by ensuring they have access to reliable, high-speed internet. This is yet another great result of Senate Bill 2, which I signed into law in 2019, which authorized EMCs to provide broadband service. SB 2 is doing exactly what it was intended to do: encourage EMCs and community leaders to work together to close the gap on the digital divide in our state.”
“In a 21st century economy, the ability to access high-speed broadband is incredibly important particularly in rural areas of our state,” said PSC Commissioner Tim Echols. “At the Public Service Commission, we’ve made expanding broadband access a priority, and it’s encouraging to see Coastal Electric and our state’s EMCs continue to show leadership in this area.”
“Our community deserves access to the tools that help our residents and businesses successfully participate in today’s economy,” State Rep. Al Williams said. “Thanks to Coastal Electric and Darien Communications for making broadband a reality in this area.”
“I’m grateful for Coastal’s investment in our communities,” said State Rep. Buddy Deloach. “Coastal was a pioneer more than 80 years ago when they provided electricity to our rural area when others would not. With this announcement, they have repeated their commitment to our region by bringing high-speed internet so we can participate in today’s online world.”
“Today is truly an exciting day for our community,” said Coastal Electric Cooperative CEO Chris Fettes. “This marks the beginning of new era for our members who have long awaited high-speed internet service. The launch of Coastal Fiber, Inc. will finally make it possible for homes and businesses in this region to have access to critical broadband service.”
In recent years, Georgia’s EMCs have been pursuing solutions to help expand broadband access. Some, like Blue Ridge Mountain EMC and Habersham EMC, have created affiliates and are already providing high-speed service to members, and many are exploring or have formed partnerships with broadband providers. In addition to today’s news, other EMC partnerships and projects were announced recently by Amicalola EMC, Carroll EMC, Central Georgia EMC, Colquitt EMC, Diverse Power, Irwin EMC, Middle Georgia EMC, Satilla REMC, Southern Rivers Energy, Tri-County EMC and Washington EMC, resulting in expanded access for approximately 200,000 Georgia homes and businesses.