22: Broadband Connectivity Enhancement Project

Residents Encouraged to Verify Broadband Internet Availability by Feb. 14

Broadband Map Flyer ImageThe Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (ACCGov) is seeking grant funding through the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) as part of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. These grant funds may be used to supplement existing SPLOST 2020 Project 22: Broadband Connectivity Project funding to help improve access to broadband internet service in Athens-Clarke County.

GTA relies on the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband Map for data about high-speed internet services available to every address in Athens-Clarke County. These types of services include satellite, cable, wireless, fiber, phone line, mobile 3G/4G/5G, and other broadband service options as reported by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

“It is important for residents to verify that the availability of broadband internet service as indicated on the FCC’s National Broadband map for their address is accurate,” said Derek Doster, SPLOST Project Manager. “An accurate map helps identify the unserved and underserved areas that need funding for more high-speed internet investments.”

The SPLOST Office is asking residents - especially those who have been unable to get services - to look up their addresses on the National Broadband map. Any resident who believes the map is incorrect or inaccurate can challenge the services listed that are incorrect or unavailable and update the map’s information.

Residents can take the following steps to view the map and data: 

  1. Click on the FCC National Broadband Map button below
  2. Once on the map, type an address into the search bar. 
  3. Review the location and broadband provider information details for the address.
  4. Challenge the location or broadband availability details if the information is believed to be wrong or if services are not available. 

Challenges to the map should be made by Wednesday, February 14 in order to meet the deadline for the next round of funding opportunities, although challenges can be made at any time.

Resources:

Project Status

Foresite Group, (ACCGov Consultant) has completed the Broadband Connectivity Enhancement Project Report that includes the needs assessment, GAP analysis, High Level Design and Cost, and Business Modeling alternatives for broadband expansion within Athens-Clarke County.

Staff has met with 3rd party Internet Service Providers (ISP) to discuss possible partnership opportunities to expand Broadband Services in Athens-Clarke County.

FCC Broadband Resources

The Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) National Broadband Map is used by ACCGov staff to research data about high-speed internet services available for Athens-Clarke County residents. Any one can visit the FCC's Broadband Data Collection webpage for further information about this resource or read about the FCC's Broadband Data Collection Challenge Processes .

Project History

  • On November 5, 2019, Athens-Clarke County voters approved the SPLOST 2020 Program Referendum.  This Referendum included Project 22, Broadband Connectivity Enhancement.
  • On December 1, 2020, the M&C adopted the Capital Budget for SPLOST 2020 Program Projects with establishing the final project budget for Project 22, Broadband Connectivity Enhancement. 
  • On June 1, 2021, the M&C approved the SPLOST 2020 Master Implementation Schedule with Project 22, Broadband Connectivity Enhancement, scheduled effort starting March 2021 with a target completion in November 2024.
  • On June 30, 2021, the User Group approved the Proposed Project Alternative Analysis Statement for M&C consideration noting the areas of impact the Broadband Connectivity Enhancement should try to address. Due to the advanced nature of the technology and rapid changing industry, the User Group identified a need to seek a Telecommunications Firm experienced in Broadband development for governmental use.
  • On August 10, 2021, staff shared a presentation with the M&C on the Broadband Connectivity Enhancement Project during a regularly scheduled Work Session.
  • On January 4, 2022. M&C awarded a Telecommunications Consulting/Design Professional Services contract to Foresite Group, LLC, with a contract value of $388,490.00 for the SPLOST 2020, Project 22 - Broadband Connectivity Enhancement Project. 
  • On February 1, 2022 Governor Brian Kemp awarded almost $408 million in grant funding for 49 projects in Georgia. Spectrum was awarded $1,094,340 to serve approximately 574 addresses in Clarke County.
  • On August 12, 2022, ACCGov opened the Broadband Connectivity Demand Aggregation Survey for residents and business within Athens-Clarke County  for broad users to advise of location, existing broadband services, satisfaction of existing broadband services, acceptable price point for service provided, desired service, and if agreeable, a speed test to capture existing download/upload speeds.
  • On October 3, 2022,  upon completion of the Demand Aggregation Survey, the following results were obtained by respondents:
    • 852 currently has internet service
    • 23 currently do not have internet service
    • 180 are served addresses (greater than 100Mbps download/20 Mbps upload)
    • 469 are underserved addresses (great than 25 Mbps download/3Mbps upload but less than 100Mbps download/20 Mbps upload)
    • 133 are unserved addresses (less than 25 Mbps download/3Mbps upload)
  • On October 20, 2022, the User Group recommends the Project Concept with concentration of target areas to move into the Preliminary Plan Phase.
  • On December 6, 2022, M&C approved the Broadband Connectivity Enhancement (SPLOST 2020 Project 22) Project Concept and authorized the project to enter into the Preliminary Plan phase.
  • On March 7, 2023, M&C approved the Broadband Connectivity Enhancement (SPLOST 2020 Project 22) Preliminary Plans and authorized the project to enter into the Business Planning Phase.
  • On May 30, 2023, ACCGov’s Consultant, Foresite Group, LLC, submitted the Athens-Clarke County Broadband Solution Report.
  • Between June 2023 and August 2023, ACCGov staff met with other municipalities/county government staff to discuss lessons learned, comments, and suggestions regarding their Broadband project.
  • Staff provided a project update to the Mayor and Commission at their regular scheduled Work Session on October 10, 2023.

Project Statement

This project will provide funding to assist with the process of implementing and providing for the enhancement of broadband connectivity throughout Athens-Clarke County. Depending upon costs and funding availability, and to the extent allowed by law, this project may include, but not be limited to, the following: providing broadband connectivity for governmental use; construction of a high speed wireless network loop around the county to provide high speed broadband access to the Internet for citizens of Athens-Clarke County; land acquisition, design, construction, and other related costs for building out the infrastructure and incorporating it into the Unified Government workflow; providing Wi-Fi connectivity in the downtown area and targeted advertisements for business development; connectivity enhancements to increase phone and/or internet service geographically in Athens-Clarke County; and partnerships with local, regional, state, federal, and/or private entities. Additionally, to the extent allowed by law, funds may be used as matching funds for leveraging grant opportunities.

Broadband User Group Meeting Videos