MOULTRIE, Ga. – Windstream and Colquitt Electric Membership Corp. today announced a joint effort to expand the coverage area of Windstream’s fiber broadband service to members of the electric cooperative.
Under the terms of the agreement, Windstream and Colquitt EMC will share responsibility for expanding the Kinetic fiber optic broadband network that will reach some of Georgia’s most rural areas over the next several years, according to a press release from the partners. As the network is expanded, Colquitt EMC members will have access to Windstream’s premium Kinetic broadband service with internet speeds up to 1 Gig.
Gov. Brian Kemp applauded the partnership.
“Now, more than ever, our rural communities need access to reliable broadband service,” Kemp said. “Windstream and Colquitt Electrical Membership Corporation are working together to make sure that our education and business communities never need to look beyond south Georgia to make sure that they have the technology resources they need.”
Commissioner Christopher Nunn of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs pointed to the Georgia Broadband Availability Map, which shows more than 70% of unserved areas in the state are in rural Georgia.
“This Windstream-Colquitt EMC partnership is significant, as it demonstrates the importance of working collaboratively to close the gap and improve connectivity for millions of Georgians,” Nunn said. “Through this investment and many others like it, providers and communities seek to deliver an essential business and quality-of-life need that is key to long-term vitality of rural areas all across our state.”
State Rep. Sam Watson, R-Moultrie, vice chair of the House Rural Development Council, led a meeting of the council at PCOM South Georgia last September. The limited broadband available in many areas of the state was a major topic of the conference.
“There have been a lot of discussions and expectations around the role of EMCs in broadband,” Watson said. “I am proud that the first partnership between an EMC and Windstream is right here in my home county of Colquitt. Pairing the resources of these two organizations will provide first-rate broadband services to our county when they need them most.”
Executives of Windstream and Colquitt EMC both praised the opportunity.
“This is a great day for Windstream, Colquitt EMC and Colquitt’s members,” said J Berkshire, president of Windstream Operations in Georgia. “By combining resources, our two organizations will accelerate Kinetic broadband deployment to customers in many locations in Colquitt’s service territory. For Windstream, this is another important step in our continuing effort to expand broadband access in some of the most hard-to-reach areas of Georgia. We look forward to a long and productive relationship with the great folks at Colquitt EMC that will benefit all of our shared communities.”
“Once state law allowed EMCs to engage in the broadband effort, Colquitt EMC recognized that a partnership is the best strategy,” said Danny Nicholls, general manager of Colquitt EMC. “We have enjoyed a positive working relationship with Windstream. Through our discussions, we have found a common goal, and we look forward to impacting our members and Windstream customers.”
Windstream and Colquitt EMC will now begin joint planning sessions for the broadband network expansion, their press release said.