Governor puts hitch in broadband plan

Governor Brian Kemp’s Office awarded a broadband grant to Comcast, causing uncertainty as to how that decision will affect a choice the Burke County Commission made last fall.

“We had partnered with Planters which we believe provides a better service,” County Manager Merv Waldrop said during Tuesday’s Development Authority meeting. “I am disappointed.”

After hearing from both Planters Communications and Comcast Business last year, the Burke County Commissioners voted unanimously to partner with Planters as they took the next step in solving the county’s broadband issue. CEO Stephen Milner pledged that their fiber plan was set up to last for 3-5 decades, with room for growth. Under their proposal, 750 miles of fiber cable would be built completely underground. The point-to-point design included active connection to every home.

Waldrop said he will be meeting with Comcast next week to find out about the quality of service Comcast will offer. It is his understanding that will include a fiber/co-axial combination to homes, providing for lower speeds.

Waldrop said he doesn’t know how Kemp’s office’s decision will affect the county’s decision to work with Planters.

“We have funding that we have agreed to work with Planters to fund areas that I guess Comcast won’t serve,” Waldrop said. There are a lot of questions and it would have been a lot simpler if the Governor’s office had awarded it to Planters, he said.

Kemp’s office announced January 4 that Comcast Cable Communications was awarded more than $16.6 million to supply broadband to more than 6,000 locations in Burke County.

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