Where is this money coming from?

  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 appropriated $7.2 billion and directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved communities across the U.S., increase jobs, spur investments in technology and infrastructure, and provide long-term economic benefits.  The result was funding of the RUS Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and the NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). BTOP provides grants to fund broadband infrastructure, public computer centers, and sustainable broadband adoption projects. Of the $7.2 billion, $4.7 billion was allotted to the NTIA to award grants. The remaining $2.5 billion went to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make loans and grants to companies building out broadband infrastructure in rural areas.
  • This $14.3 million project is primarily funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Oconee County partners will contribute 32% in matching cash and in-kind funds to the project.

Who will it serve?

  • Open access network for use by commercial service providers will be responsible for the “last mile” to their customers and the operation of their equipment
  • All County facilities, 150 anchor institutes, 26 public safety entities, 24-K-12 schools, Tri-County Technical College, Oconee Medical Center and four libraries.  Approximately 27,800 households and 2,400 businesses could also have access to network

Who will pay for this in the long run?

  • 68% of this project is funded from Federal Stimulus money. The balance will be paid by the County through funding, “in-kind” services and revenue generated through sales of services.
  • The network will be a self-sustaining utility – Commercial service providers will pay an annual lease fee to use the County’s fiber infrastructure

What will be done?

  • 245 miles of broadband fiber will be buried along roads in the County
  • Anchor institutions will be provided discounted Internet access
  • Free Wi-Fi will be available at emergency centers, fire departments, and specific county parks

Where will all this go?


  • A map showing route of fiber will be attached soon

When will this project begin?

  • Installation could begin as early as mid-September
  • This whole project will be completed in 3 years

How will this help me?

  • If you have no broadband service, you will have the infrastructure provided so commercial providers can afford to install the “last mile” in less populated areas
  • Fiber backbone to facilitate competitive broadband expansion in the County
  • If you currently have broadband accessibility, your current average speed is 1.5 – 6 mbps for downloads and 256 – 512330 kbps for uploads.  This new fiber infrastructure will increase those speeds beyond 20 mbps for downloads.  Businesses will be able to purchase up to 10 Gb connections.
  • The network will be robust enough to transmit two-way, voice, data, audio, video, videoconferencing, and High Definition TV
  • The project will connect us to adjacent counties

How will this help the community?

  • Attract and retain business – especially those with very high bandwidth needs such as digital media, software development, e-commerce and other knowledge based industries.
  • Allow competition with the global economy through workforce education and telecommuting
  • Facilitate affordable broadband access to community groups, students and the elderly
  • Increase citizen participation in civic life activities
  • Enable law enforcement, fire departments, emergency management, and public health to respond more quickly
  • Allow connectivity to area medical facilities
  • Facilitate two-way high speed communication and videoconferencing
  • Save the County government the cost of communication lease fees
  • Initiate interactive monitoring between health professionals and patients

How will this create jobs?

The middle-mile is the sector of the network that connects last-mile facilities such as telecom company local interconnection points (central offices) with the commercial Internet and with national and global advanced research networks. Service providers and contractors installing the network will make additional hires in the next 30-90 days. Suppliers will need to add workforce to manufacture the additional materials required.  Oconee County may add jobs to administer and oversee the build out of the fiber, but most will be contracted positions with vendors handling various aspects of the project.

The most potential lies in the attraction of other businesses to the County.  In the past, business and industry looked for utilities, transportation and workforce.  Now, high speed Internet access is just as important to potential businesses as water and power.

Broadband connectivity spurs economic growth, supports continuing education, delivers job training, provides job search opportunities, and gives the County a competitive advantage in today’s global economy. Rural America, and Oconee County simply can’t be successful without broadband access.

What is the first step?

Oconee County will begin immediately to undertake the work of planning and building the new middle-mile broadband infrastructure.  Oconee County Broadband project (FOCUS) $14.6 million project is primarily funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Oconee County and partners will contribute 32 percent matching cash and in-kind funds to the project.

What is the Middle Mile?

A “Middle Mile” open broadband network that does not predominantly provide broadband service to end users or to end-user devices, and may include interoffice transport, backhaul, Internet connectivity, or special access. In other words, the Middle Mile network is an extension of the Internet backbone that connects Last Mile providers (Internet Service Providers) who ultimately serve the residents, businesses, and governments in our region, to the rest of the world. The Middle Mile network is typically connected to multiple “access points” along the Internet backbone routes.

What is the Internet Backbone?

The Internet backbone refers to the main trunk “super highway” connections of the Internet. It is made up of a large collection of interconnected commercial, government, academic and other high-capacity data routes and routing devices that carry data across the US and the rest of the world. Optical fiber is what actually carries the enormous amounts of data (which makes up the voice, video, and data communications of the world) that are global communications today. From Tokyo to London and across the USA it is fiber optic networks that deliver the capacity and reliability every network relies on. By tapping into multiple providers at multiple points on the Internet backbone we create redundancy and huge capacity into the region.

What is Bandwidth?

Bandwidth is a basic measure of performance for computer networks, including Internet broadband service. It determines the rate (throughput) at which computer data moves through a network, and thus how quickly files can be transferred over a network. Bandwidth measures the throughput of sending data (upload) and receiving data (download). The basic unit used to describe bandwidth is bits per second (bps) but prefixes such as K (kilo-thousand), M (mega-million), or G ( giga-billion) are appended in front of the unit. For example, a 5 Mbps broadband connection is able to transfer 5 million bits in a single second.

Broadband is sometimes casually, but incorrectly, referred to as speed. Ultimately, all bits on an electronic network  travel at the same speed (the speed of light). Thus, it is the size, the bandwidth capacity, of the broadband network that really matters.