SR 876: Study Committee on High Speed Internet Access

Senator Steve Gooch (R-SD-51) filed legislation to create a joint study committee to study high-speed Internet access in Georgia, termed the “Joint High-Speed Broadband Communications Access for All Georgians Study Committee”.  The committee will meet several times through the summer and fall of this year focusing on obstacles that prevent high-speed Internet access from reaching all parts of Georgia, primarily in the more rural parts of the state.  From a presser issued by the Georgia Senate Press Office:

“Georgia is known as a top state for business, but we need to take a closer look at communities with sluggish economic growth if we want to remain economically competitive. Many of these communities have two things in common: a rural location and lack of adequate high-speed broadband internet. Expanding access would remove barriers for both economic and educational growth in rural areas throughout Georgia,” said Sen. Gooch.

The joint study committee will be tasked with examining the conditions, needs, issues and problems of high-speed broadband internet access. Economic development, education and health care are areas commonly impacted by reduced access to broadband communications, and professionals from these areas will be asked to share information about specific barriers and concerns. The joint study committee is responsible for submitting a report of findings and recommendations, including proposed legislation, by December 1, 2016.

Georgia has good Internet infrastructure in terms of Internet backbone and backhauls to connect metro areas and surrounding neighborhoods, but a lot of the problem lies with “the last mile” (i.e., connecting homes or neighborhoods to these higher speed Internet connections).  Rural areas are frequently a challenge due to populations being more spread out, so the costs for delivering high-speed Internet access tend to be prohibitive.

A step beyond just providing the access is for businesses (and plucky tinkerers) to create innovative ways to use all of that bandwidth besides binge-watching House of Cards on Netflix.

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