Pilot broadband program presented to supervisors

By: 
DONNA SUMMERALL
Staff Writer

There was exciting news for those living in Clay County, during the Thursday meeting of the Clay County Board of Supervisors. Jon Turner, manager of marketing and public relations with 4-County Electric Power Association and Brian Clark, CEO, announced a pilot program to bring broadband to those who are unserved and underserved with internet access.

"I think 4-County Electric Power Association, in 80 years has been good stewards of the community," Brian Clark, CEO, said. "I think we have worked well with Clay County and will continue to do so."
The 4-County Foundation has been supplying grant money to the Sheriff's Department and other county agencies. Customer service is the top priority, and that will not change with broadband supplied by 4-County.

"Thanks to the legislature for helping us with grant money to get the ball rolling on broadband services," Clark said. "We are beginning the pilot program right here in Clay County. We have already begun stringing fiber and will be hooking up members by the end of the month."

Jon Turner, manager of marketing and public relations with 4-County Electric Power Association, said parts of Clay County are in the three pilot projects to offer broadband services to those who are underserved or not served at all.
"There are still things that we don't know," Turner said. "There will be places at first where one side of the street will be offered broadband services before the end of the year, but across the street it isn't available yet. By the stipulations of the grant money it had to unserved and underserved areas."

According to Turner, after the initial pilot program is finished and in place, work will begin to bring in the service for the entire county.
There will be three speeds offered, 200 megabits, 500 megabits and 1 gigabyte, no data caps. The speed of 200 megabits should be enough for most families. This should suffice for normal streaming, internet access for phones, laptops, tablets. But for internet gaming or maybe robust home office the 500 megabit should be plenty. The 1 gigabyte would be enough for anything, there is a lot there.

"No contracts, no data caps, we just want to offer affordable, reliable internet service," Turner said. "We will be mailing out information to those in the pilot area, in the next couple of days. We will be calling some of the potential customers. We should be rolling in the next couple of weeks to get people up and running. If we are successful here, we'll have broadband everywhere. We are very excited about the impact this will have on the community.
Clark said this is the year to offer broadband where it hasn't been available before. With COVID-19, impacting the way schools are teaching children, having broadband service is essential to distance learning.

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