More than half of Georgia counties lack high-speed internet for 20% or more of their homes and businesses, state data shows. Nearly all of them are in rural areas. A few small counties like Baker and Glascock – with nearly 4,000 homes and businesses total – have no broadband access at all.
Officials in the small city of Arabi, located in Crisp County, said recently in an application for federal funds that none of their residents have broadband internet access. Local school officials trucked out mobile hotspots to places like an old hardware store for students to take classes in a grassy parking lot during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the school district’s technology director, Barry Doyle. The large pot of federal dollars headed Georgia’s way should curb the need for many Georgia students and their families to rely on quality internet outside their homes, advocates say.
“The one missing piece for a long time was funding,” said Jessica Simmons, the deputy chief information officer for broadband at the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA). “Now we’re really in a position that the funding is going to be there to hopefully bridge this gap.”