The pandemic spurred Columbia County, Ga., to push for more widespread broadband access. Officials struck a deal with private Internet providers in which the county would share the costs of laying new fibers to incentivize extending access to 185 additional residents located in less-profitable rural areas. The county, which moved up to third place in this year’s survey, also aims to bring more connectivity in remote areas by constructing “Wi-Fi pavilions” in public spaces. Columbia County’s plans also called for bolstering its existing networks’ capacity by replacing switches in April and May 2021 with more robust versions and adding additional switches at each node to improve resilience.

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