ATLANTA — A north Georgia lawmaker says he thinks electric cooperatives could be a key player in filling the broadband coverage gaps in the state’s underserved rural communities.
But Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, said he doesn’t expect everyone under the Gold Dome to be quite so enthused by a plan to turn loose cooperatives to offer broadband. Gooch said he expects existing providers, in particular, to push back on the proposal.
“It’s going to be a fight,” Gooch said in a recent interview. “I don’t think it’s going to be easy. But again, nothing down there ever is. With anything this important, there’s going to be people who are against it because of self-motives and financial reasons.
“And I’m fine with that. I love to debate, and in fact, I challenge all the providers to come in and get involved and help us perfect the bill,” he added.
Gooch pitched a measure earlier this year that would grant the state’s 41 not-for-profit electric membership corporations, which serve about 2 million customers, the authority to offer broadband service in some of the state’s most sparsely populated places.
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