THOMASVILLE — Thomas County commissioners took a step toward increasing broadband access throughout the county.

Commissioners approved having Chairman Phillip Brown submit two applications for grant funding from the Georgia Fiscal Recovery Fund. The grants will be used in partnership with Windstream and AT&T to improve broadband capability in the two companies’ respective territories. 

Together, the county and the companies will seek $22.6 million in state funding to run fiber optic cable to 4,300 homes within the unincorporated areas of the county designated as unserved or underserved.

“The expansion of broadband internet to the unserved and underserved areas of Thomas County is critical to the quality of life and the economic property of our citizens,” said Brown. “One example of this need is the disadvantage students in the rural areas face when the school systems turn to virtual learning, as we have seen in the past year.” 

Thomas County will be soliciting letters of support from Thomas County Board of Education, Grady EMC and the cities of Barwick, Boston, Coolidge, Meigs, Ochlocknee and Pavo.

Commissioners are considering matching funds to improve the chances of the grants receiving State approval. Thomas County may use matching funds from the American Rescue Plan or any other general government revenue sources. 

Applications are due in Gov. Brian Kemp’s office by October 31. For more information call Celeste Tyler or Mike Stephenson at 225-4100.

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