BLUE RIDGE, Ga – The first public hearings pertaining to the Broadband Ready Ordinance and adjustment to Fannin’s Comprehensive plan were held last Tuesday.
Fannin County Economic Development Executive Director Christie Gribble explained the importance of implementing a Broadband Ready Ordinance in Fannin to those in attendance. She’s been in charge of finding resources and plans to help the county become attractive for broadband internet expansion.
Around 20 communities in Georgia have already ratified a Broadband Ready Ordinance.
The proposed ordinance would propose a project timeline, point of contact, permitting, right of way, and sets fee limits for a broadband network project.
The single point of contact was established as Marie Woody, the Department Head of Land Development, because the office deals with permitting. The county must respond to the request within 10 days and the fee is set under $100.
Those most likely to apply for a broadband service permit are telecommunications providers like ETC or BRMEMC.
The broadband expansion will likely be in-ground internet lines or wireless.
“In an ideal world, this ordinance would be for reliable internet service…5G isn’t really reliable that’s not to say that there’s not a company out there that wants to do something for Fannin County. But the ordinance and our plan with what we’re doing and the state of Georgia is to provide reliable internet at certain speeds which would be wired service versus 5G,” Gribble explained.
The goal internet speed is 25 megabits (MB) per second download and 3 MB per second upload.
If Fannin County determines an application is not complete, then it must inform the applicant of all incomplete areas with a checklist and provide the applicant 40 calendar days to make changes from the date of application. If the applicant does not respond within 40 days, it is deemed canceled.
If a joint meeting is necessary, it must occur within 50 days of notification and it must include where the work will take place, who Fannin County can contact for information, when the work will be conducted, and what type of work will be performed. Following the meeting, the county has 10 days to approve or deny the application.
Any approved application will be valid for six months.
It depends on the utility service if they want to install broadband internet, so the county’s trying to make installation as simple as possible. No guarantees are being made at this time about broadband access being expanded in the county.
The 5-year comprehensive plan must be amended to include the broadband focus as well. The state has instructed counties and cities to include the broadband initiative to become more competitive for grant funding.
Northwest Georgia Regional Commission Senior Planner Gretchen Lugthart explained that the reliable internet project is like the 1930s rural electrification program.
“It took extra effort and stimulus to get electrification to the rural areas because there’s not many customers there, so the companies have no incentive to put it out there. There needed to be a little boost where the government and private entities worked together,” Lugthart related.
The state of Georgia and communities are now implementing a similar strategy and establishing goals and addressing enhancing quality of life with faster internet speeds.
A second public hearing will be held on the broadband ordinance on July 27.