Last Friday 9th District Congressman Doug Collins and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai gathered stakeholders from across Northeast Georgia to address the challenges of delivering affordable, accessible internet access to rural communities. The forum included local representatives, chamber of commerce leaders and internet service providers.
Congressman Collins opened the proceeding with this statement:
You know, I always talk about the economic gap, the opportunity gap, or the economic divide. I call this one a dream divide. The question is, if the next generation and this current generation is going to dream, is the dream divide keeping them away because we can’t provide broadband service to them? Why should 60 to 70 miles [from Atlanta] determine [who] can take AP online courses or if you can study at home or maybe just connect back to your business from two miles down the road?
Among speakers at the forum were Georgia State Representative Terry Rogers, Paul Belk, President and CEO of North Georgia Network, Steve Fortmann, owner of Paladin Wireless, Dr. Drew van Horn of Young Harris College and Kevin Woody, a community pharmacist with a store in Lumpkin County.
After the forum FCC Chairman Ajit Pai commented:
It was incredible to see some of the energy and passion surrounding internet access here in North Georgia, and, going forward, I think the FCC is committed to being willing to partner to make sure everyone in North Georgia—Dahlonega, surrounding communities—is able to take advantage of what I call ‘digital opportunity.
Full text of the event’s press release is available here.