“This would enable the Verizons of the world to hook onto our towers and push broadband out into the rural areas,” Assistant County Manager Blaine Williams said. “
The proposed system would spur off from Norfolk-Southern Railroad’s existing fiber optic network which roughly parallels U.S. 27 though Walker, Chattooga, Floyd, Polk and Haralson counties.
Three counties in southwest Alabama — Calhoun, Cleburne and Clay — also have joined the public-private alliance spearheaded by the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission.
About $6 million of the required local match would come from including Floyd’s new towers in the network.
The towers are part of the countywide emergency communications system funded with a $26.7 million earmark in the 2009 special purpose, local option sales tax package. The broadband pledge would not change the timeline or scope of the SPLOST project, commissioners said.
Summerville-based Parker FiberNet LLC, a partner in the Appalachian Valley alliance, also would pledge cable it already owns in the region to equal another $3.5 million of local investment.
If the grant is approved, Rome would become a fiber optic nexus, with cable also running from the communications towers up Ga. 53 to Gordon County.
“A lot of fiber would be deployed in Floyd County that wouldn’t otherwise be done for some time,” said Parker FiberNet owner David Parker.
Gordon County is linked to Atlanta, Dalton and Chattanooga, Tenn. Walker County would bring into the network its existing connection to Huntsville, Ala.
Plans are to also build off existing fiber in Polk County to connect with fiber rings in Bartow and Paulding counties.
The application deadline has been pushed back a week to March 26, with the awards expected to be announced this fall.