Sumter County awarded over $25 million to support broadband expansion

Published 9:41 am Thursday, February 3, 2022

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Americus, GA – On Tuesday, February 1, 2022, Governor Brian Kemp announced the One Sumter Economic Development Foundation would receive over $25 Million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant funding to provide gigabit-enabled broadband access to over 5,700 unserved locations across Sumter County. As one of 49 selected statewide grant recipients, the One Sumter Broadband Expansion Project represents a partnership effort with Pineland Communications and the Sumter County Board of Commissioners.

With the total project cost of this fiber to the premise expansion estimated at approximately $33 Million, the $25,387,600 in grant funding is being matched locally by $1 Million from the Sumter County Board of Commissioners, $50,000 from the One Sumter Economic Development Foundation, and $6.6 Million from Pineland Communications. Once built out, the One Sumter Broadband Expansion project will represent 612 total miles of buried fiber covering 488 square miles of service area.

Pineland General Manager and Executive Vice President Dustin Durden shares his enthusiasm for the project, “On behalf of Pineland Communications, we are extremely excited to hear the great news from Governor Kemp.  Since our first meeting with the leadership of Sumter County, we have seen great potential in this area.” Pineland currently has approximately 52 miles of fiber cable buried in Americus, Georgia (Sumter County). Since breaking ground in 2018, Pineland has already placed roughly $3 Million of private capital and infrastructure in the community, with that investment now set to grow exponentially.

Providing access of symmetrical broadband speeds of a minimum 100 mbps download and 100 mbps upload with speeds up to one Gigabit per second, the project offers an economic boost to Sumter County and marketing opportunities as a Gigabit enabled county.  Having gigabit enabled service will enhance educational opportunities online, help attract new business and industry, encourage existing business expansions, and will improve quality of life throughout the county.

Durden continues, “The community has welcomed us with open arms from day one, and we are proud to partner with them on this next venture.  Thank you; Ivy Oliver, Mary Beth Brownlee, and Alex Saratsiotis and the One Sumter board for their tireless work and commitment to this project.  Also, thank you to Mark Waddell, Clay Jones, Scott Roberson, Jessie Smith, and the late William Reid for their commitment to this project and the community in which they are elected to serve.  Lastly, a big thank you to the Broadband Grant Committee and Governor Kemp for their commitment to getting robust broadband to Rural Georgia!  We can’t wait to get started.”

Sumter County Board of Commissioners Chair Mark Waddell echoes Durden’s sentiments, “We are excited about the project and the $25 Million that will be invested in our county. Being in a rural area we have many citizens that do not have adequate internet service. With this investment in broadband access and the increased need for internet services, we will now be able to keep up with the demand and fulfill a need for our citizens and community.”

One Sumter Economic Development Foundation Chairman Alex Saratsiotis praised the efforts of the project and community. “We could not have accomplished a project of this magnitude without the support of Pineland, the Sumter County Board of Commissioners and the many partners who came together to make this project a reality for our community,” says Saratsiotis.

The One Sumter Broadband Expansion project is expected to take approximately three years for completion once underway, with grant funds starting to be distributed to the community over the next two months. Service within the expansion area is anticipated to begin to come online in some areas in the summer of 2023. One Sumter, and its partners, look to host a groundbreaking event to mark the significance of this once-in-a-generation investment across Sumter County in the weeks to come.

Pineland Telephone serves over 1,300 square miles in all or parts of ten counties and seventeen exchanges in South Georgia, bringing Telephone, Internet, Technology, and Security solutions to its customers.  In its 70th year, 100% of Pineland’s customers receive their services via a dedicated Fiber-to-the-Home network capable of delivering broadband speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second.  Pineland’s mission is to offer an outstanding customer experience through the efficient delivery of progressive technology solutions in the markets served.  We will achieve this mission by applying our Core Values of Excellence, Integrity, Innovation, and a Servant’s Heart in everything we do.

The One Sumter Economic Development Foundation, Inc., is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded to enhance and support economic development activity in Sumter County. One Sumter invests in four key priority areas: 1) Economic & Community Development, 2) Education & Workforce Development, 3) Leadership Development & Regional Sustainability and 4) Entrepreneurship & Talent Development. One Sumter has been dedicated to serving as a catalyst for change and growth across Sumter County over the last eight years.