Dawson County maintains the rural aspects in much of its north pasts, while the GA-400 corridor serves as its southern commercial hub. However, the unserved or underserved areas that do not have access to reliable internet service challenge the county residents. Such areas lack a wireline connection that reliably delivers minimum speeds of 25 Mbps downloads and 3 Mbps uploads.
As a result, several Dawson citizens do not have internet access nor reliable, reasonably priced service in their homes. As more businesses and industries push their customers to websites for information, the need for a reliable internet connection has increased.
“The COVID-19 Pandemic also has presented many challenges to our residents and students,” said Laura Fulcher, Public Affairs Officer for the Dawson County Board of Commissioners. “When the school system went to virtual classrooms, some students were left without internet access.”
Despite the public library being closed, parents were able to take their children and sign on to the library’s network while in the parking lot. Also, while students are dealing with internet challenges, residents who had shifted from working in their office to working from home required steady internet access.
Alongside the school system and individuals working remotely, businesses, public safety, and healthcare also relied on steady, fast, and secure broadband access. Especially during the pandemic, doctor offices have moved to see patients virtually rather than in person.
“Simply put, these services have become a basic necessity of everyday life for work purposes, online ordering, and communicating with family and friends via services such as Zoom or Facetime,” Fulcher continued.
Fulcher states that citizens have not only contacted county staff members but also the Board of Commissioners with their concerns regarding the lack of reliable broadband access in Dawson County. However, by applying for the Georgia Department of Community Affair’s (DCA) Broadband Ready designation, Dawson County is now Broadband Ready.
The designation recognizes a city and or county whose local government has completed the application and demonstrated compliance by adopting a local comprehensive plan inclusive of broadband services deployment and a Broadband Model Ordinance.
“By Dawson County pursuing and achieving the Broadband Ready Community status, it demonstrates to the residents and business owners that the local government is committed to meeting their needs for broadband service,” Fulcher emphasized.
With the new status, residents can be assured that the local government has heard their request and concerns regarding the need to close the gap of broadband access within the county.