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APRIL 21, 2021

CRAWFORDVILLE, GA – Surrounded by students from the Taliaferro County School System, representatives from Augusta University, the Georgia Cyber Center,  Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, Appropriations Chairman Blake Tillery, Taliaferro County School Superintendent Allen Fort, and Harrison Poultry, Inc. gathered today to announce testing taking place that is aimed at delivering high-speed broadband internet to the rural communities of Georgia.

“Like most experiments, we may not get the answers we anticipate,” said Dr. Brooks Keel, President, Augusta University. “But my personal experience as a researcher has taught me that every experiment, even failed ones, provides valuable information that will help fine-tune our approach and pave the way towards ultimate success.”

“We realized as we started to try to teach rural coding, it wasn’t going to work at all if we didn’t have broadband access for you (students) to be able to do that at home,” said State Senator Blake Tillery. “So that is what started this initiative, and we began to look around at assets we had around our state in Georgia. Particularly, the Augusta area was perfectly tailored to address this project.”

The Georgia Cyber Center at Augusta University is researching various fixed wireless technologies in Taliaferro County in an effort to expand rural broadband. Testing will occur at Harrison Poultry, Inc. and other sites around the county over the next several weeks. This initiative aims to determine what technologies are ideal in various environmental scenarios while accounting for tree density, terrain height, terrain makeup, temperature, precipitation, and more. Once complete, the Georgia Cyber Center will publish the results and begin working on a model that will predict the most cost-effective way to deliver broadband in underserved and unserved areas statewide.

“I am standing here today viewing the intersection between the University, the Georgia Cyber Center, the private sector, and the school system,” said Lieutenant Governor, Geoff Duncan. “I watched this perfect intersection of innovation come alive. I watched the ability to take these ideas into these private sector solutions and vet out the best way to deliver high-speed internet to all of our 159 counties.”

Five technologies will be tested and strategically installed in various locations to collect performance data over the next several weeks. Test results will be used to assess which technology would perform best in a given area and what adjustments might be needed. There will not be a one-size-fits-all solution and scenarios might arise where fiber connections are more cost-effective than wireless. This initiative represents a first step in efforts to make Georgia the first state in the nation to offer border-to-border broadband coverage.

“It is critical that we expand broadband services across the state of Georgia.  The partnership and pilot in Taliaferro County is an example of how we can pull together to solve this problem,” said State Senator Max Burns.





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