§ 50-40-81. Development of Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative; funding awards; considerations; priorities; compliance with federal provisions.





Current through 2019-2020 Chapters 1-469, 473, 476-478, 481-485, 487-489, 493, 494, 500, 502, 509, 515, 519, 521, 523-526, 533, 536-541

§ 50-40-81. Development of Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative; funding awards; considerations; priorities; compliance with federal provisions

(a) On or before July 1, 2019, the Department of Community Affairs shall develop the "Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative" program to provide funding awards to expand broadband services to unserved areas of the state. The goal of such program shall be to provide broadband services coverage throughout the entire state. The funding awards of the program shall represent the state's investment in the deployment of broadband services to unserved areas and shall be used only for capital expenses and expenses directly related to the purchase or lease of property or communications services or facilities, including, without limitation, backhaul and transport, to facilitate the provision of broadband services.
(1) Funding awards, in the form of grants or loans, shall be competitively awarded to eligible applicants based on criteria consistent with this article and other factors established by the department; provided, however, that the department shall not discriminate between different types of broadband services technology as long as the technology is capable of transmitting data at the rates specified for each unserved area.
(2) The department shall designate political subdivisions as eligible applicants that shall be qualified to apply for funding awards under this article. All such eligible applicants are hereby granted all powers necessary for any and all purposes of the program, and in the case of any development authority included as an eligible applicant, the exercise of such powers is hereby found and determined to promote the development of trade, commerce, industry, and employment opportunities.
(c) Funding awards shall be based on appropriations of funds or receipt of other funds to support the program.
(d) The department shall consider each of the following in the funding awards process:
(1) The effectiveness of the partnership between an eligible applicant and a qualified broadband services provider;
(2) The benefit to the unserved area in terms of the population served and the capacity and scalability of the technology to be deployed; and
(3) The total project cost and the ability to leverage other available federal, local, and private funds.
(e) In addition to the criteria provided in subsection (d) of this Code section, the department may establish any other criteria for determining any funding awards that are reasonable and necessary to ensure that the funds are utilized to provide broadband services to the unserved areas. Such criteria may include, but shall not be limited to:
(1) Whether the qualified broadband services provider in the partnership is willing to agree to:
(A) Not charge more for broadband services to customers in any unserved area for which a funding award is received than it does for the same or similar broadband services to customers in other areas of the state;
(B) Serve 90 percent of any locations requesting broadband services in any unserved area for which a funding award is received; and
(C) Meet or exceed in any unserved area for which it receives a grant a minimum level of dependable service as established by the department;
(2) The benefit to businesses; industrial parks; education centers; hospitals and other health care facilities, such as telehealth facilities and emergency care facilities; government buildings; public safety departments; or other providers of public services located within the unserved area;
(3) Data cap limits, signal latency, and reliability of the technology to be utilized;
(4) Historic service issues in other areas served by the qualified broadband provider in the partnership; and
(5) The length of time it will take to deploy the broadband services in the unserved area.
(f) The department shall give competitive priority to any unserved area certified as a broadband ready community as provided in Article 3 of this chapter. Partnerships that include qualified broadband providers that cooperate in providing information requested pursuant to subsection (d) of Code Section 50-40-21, as applicable, shall also factor favorably into the competitive funding awards process.
(g) The department shall ensure that the program complies with all applicable federal laws, rules, and regulations.

Cite as OCGA § 50-40-81

History. Amended by 2019 Ga. Laws 321, §50, eff. 5/12/2019.

Added by 2018 Ga. Laws 423, §6-1, eff. 5/7/2018.