Kinetic has established a new public-private partnership with Lee County, Georgia, to extend fiber-based broadband internet to 4,000 homes, businesses, schools, and medical facilities.
Set to be completed by the end of the year, this is Kinetic’s first venture in Lee County.
Kinetic’s Lee County fiber project is part of a $2 billion multiyear capital investment strategy to dramatically expand gigabit fiber service across the company’s 18-state footprint.
“What Kinetic is doing is helping Lee County immeasurably,” Georgia Public Service Commission Chairman Jason Shaw said during a recent event. “For far too long, the hardworking families and businesses in Lee County have endured the absence of high-speed internet. It’s time they get the best in reliable broadband service, and that’s precisely what Kinetic is doing.”
Multiple funding sources
The project will leverage state and local funds and Kinetic’s capital.
Lee County will use about $12.5 million in state grant money from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program, part of the federal American Rescue Plan. The county has also committed an additional $1.2 million in matching funds.
Kinetic will invest $7.3 million and cover any cost overruns. It will install about 360 miles of fiber cable to bring high-speed internet to Lee County.
State Rep. Bill Yearta, R-Sylvester, said he was “excited” about the project.
“This is a great public–private partnership,” he said. “Broadband is vital for our communities today, just as rural electrification was 100 years ago.”
Broadening rural reach
Besides its partnership with Lee County, Kinetic worked with electric cooperative Sumter Electric Membership Corp. to help it secure the funding to expand its fiber broadband network to rural customers.
Sumter EMC will also let Kinetic attach fiber to its utility poles.
“We are grateful for the forward-thinking and diligence exhibited by county leaders and Kinetic during the grant process and look forward to the fiber expansion bringing economic and educational opportunities to rural Lee County,” said Rene Smith, president, and CEO of Sumter EMC.
In 2021, Kinetic and Sumter EMC established a working agreement to deliver fiber broadband to 16,000 homes and businesses in Southwest Georgia. The collaboration means over the next four years, Kinetic will build approximately 1,000 miles of fiber-optic cable across eleven counties.
A large part of the capacity of the expanded network will deliver broadband to homes and businesses across the Sumter EMC footprint, including Chattahoochee, Dougherty, Lee, Marion, Quitman, Randolph, Schley, Stewart, Sumter, Terrell and Webster counties. The remaining capacity will be allocated to Sumter EMC as the backbone for communications to the EMC’s power system equipment.
Sumter EMC is just one of a few electric cooperative partners Kinetic has worked with to enhance its rural reach.
The company also established a similar agreement with Colquitt Electric Membership Corp. to expand the coverage area of Windstream’s fiber broadband service to electric cooperative members in its territory.
Like its agreement with Sumter and Lee County, 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.
Later, in November 2023, Kinetic announced it would serve 70% of Colquitt County, Georgia, or over 17,000 homes and businesses with fiber broadband services next year via a $32.5 million public-private partnership.