The Georgia Public Service Commission yesterday approved new pole attachment pricing designed to spur rural broadband deployment in unserved areas. The new pricing includes the One Buck Deal proposed by rural electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) in the state that establishes a rate of one dollar per year for new pole attachments to provide broadband to rural areas in EMC service areas where broadband isn’t available today.
The cooperatives initially proposed that the rate should be in effect for five years, but the PSC decided to make it six years. Broadband providers obtaining the Georgia One Buck Deal rate must deploy service at speeds of at least 25/3 Mbps.
The commission also established a cost-based rate for existing pole attachments and for areas of the state that already have broadband.
Georgia One Buck Deal
According to a press release from the Georgia EMC, an association representing the state’s 41 electric cooperatives, the One Buck Deal requires EMCs to forego recovering a “fair share” of the costs to own and maintain utility pole.
This might initially seem surprising, considering that it was Georgia EMC that initially proposed the One Buck Deal. But because cooperatives are member-owned, they have a strong focus on the local communities that they serve – and communities that lack broadband increasingly are looking at what they can do as a community to attract a broadband provider.
“With today’s decision, EMCs are poised and ready to partner with broadband providers across the state to help them expand into our rural service territories,” said Georgia EMC President and CEO Dennis Chastain in a Georgia EMC press release.
Some Georgia EMCs – including Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, Cobb EMC, Diverse Power and Habersham EMC have established affiliate companies to deliver broadband service, the Georgia EMC press release about the One Buck Deal notes.
Other EMCs in the state have partnered with other companies to bring broadband to their communities. The press release about the Georgia One Buck Deal notes several examples:
- Amicalola EMC and Ellijay Telephone Company partnered to provide greater access to high-speed internet in their shared north Georgia service areas.
- Colquitt EMC partnered with Windstream to expand Windstream’s Kinetic gigabit fiber service to rural areas over the next several years.
- Carroll EMC and broadband provider SyncGlobal obtained funding through the USDA ReConnect program to cover some of the costs of expanding broadband to rural areas of the state.
While some states must rely on flawed FCC data to determine areas lacking broadband, the state of Georgia recently created its own broadband map, which will be used to determine unserved areas eligible for the One Buck Deal.