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Georgia lawmakers conduct survey to identify rural market broadband gaps

Georgia’s lawmakers are working together to find a way to enhance broadband service in the state’s rural areas by asking residents to take an online survey about their service experience.

After tallying the survey results, Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) said a joint committee of state lawmakers will make a set of recommendations, including developing tax incentives to further broadband investment and getting rid of certain government regulation.

Gooch told the Gainesville Times in a statement that substandard internet service creates a barrier to economic development in rural parts of Northeast Georgia. Gooch added that businesses say broadband weighs heavily on whether they will locate their business in a particular town or city.

Gainesville itself is in the process of building out a free wireless broadband hotspot in the downtown square to improve e-commerce, recruit new businesses, provide educational opportunities in an outdoor setting and promote cultural events.

This new committee emerged as Dahlonega, Georgia, residents have complained to lawmakers about Windstream’s services. Residents said that the telco’s broadband speeds are “slow and unreliable.”

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) has sent letters to the Little Rock, Ark.-based company demanding better solutions. Windstream said it would make necessary upgrades to its network earlier this year to improve speeds and service quality.

“It is my hope that this survey truly demonstrates what the broadband experience is like for users in Northeast Georgia. It is one thing to hear promises from the internet service providers, but the truth will lie in the responses of real consumers,” Collins said in a statement to the Times.


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