Similar to small towns across Georgia, the City of Byron was not immune from the struggles of COVID-19, and as an interstate town, travel reductions greatly impacted local revenues and job prospects. Broadband access, another issue highlighted by the pandemic, became a necessity for many individuals to stay employed given the changes within the rapid service sector.
Tiffany Sandefur, City Administrator of Byron, stated that though a majority of the city is adequately served by quality broadband services, such as Windstream providing Gigabit speeds using Fiber technology, these services do present a significant cost burden for most residents. Cable internet is also accessible through Cox Communications, and despite being slower and still costly, it still provides a more practical alternative for most.
With the Broadband designation, the City of Byron is now recognized as a Broadband Ready city/and or county whose local government has completed the application and demonstrated compliance with the adoption of a local comprehensive plan inclusive of the deployment of broadband services and a Broadband Model Ordinance.
Neighbors and partners in unincorporated Peach County and the City of Fort Valley also have significant challenges with internet accessibility. Many residents there lack access to any service beyond satellite internet, and similar to Byron, service is expensive. However, if the City of Byron can offer support through the easing of regulatory barriers within its municipal boundaries, Sandefur says the city is happy to do so.
“Having quality internet service is an immediate boost to economic activity within the area,” Sandefur adds. “It will also help our students be more successful in the classroom, knowing that they can reference electronic learning materials seamlessly.”
With the City of Byron situated along Interstate 75, the city is actively looking to market its own industrial park. As Broadband can help encourage economic development, the city believes that the program can set any community on the right track for future growth.