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Thursday, January 5, 2012 - 4:00am

North Ga. Broadband Nearing Finish

Eight northeast Georgia counties will soon have access to faster broadband connections than ever before.

The final pieces of a 260-mile broadband ring from Atlanta north through the Georgia mountains will be in place by the end of the month. The ring is the backbone of a new $42 million fiber-optic network that, by the end of the year, will branch off into a thousand-miles of connections to businesses, schools and more than 300-thousand people.

“We proposed it as an economic development program to recruit businesses to the area that need high-speed internet,” said Bruce Abraham, North Georgia Network president and CEO. “A lot of our focus this year is to make this available to companies that want to locate here or are here and need expanded communications.”

The broadband project will serve Dawson, Forsyth, Habersham, Lumpkin, Rabun, Towns, Union and White counties. A $33 million federal stimulus grant is paying for most of it, with local money covering the remaining $9 million cost.

“Your typical business connection is a DSL line, a copper connection. It’s maybe 12 megabits,” Abraham said. “Just at the beginning, we can offer a gigabit connection from a fiber drop to these businesses, which is a great leap forward for them. They can do things that they haven’t even dreamed they can do up here.”

In addition to the economic development prospects, Abraham said the new access will benefit schools, health care facilities and government.

Work on the complete thousand-plus miles of fiber-optic connections should be finished by the end of the year.

Vice President Joe Biden came to Georgia two years ago to announce the federal money for the project.

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