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High-speed Internet coming to mountains

$42M project to bring broadband to North Ga.

POSTED: December 21, 2011 4:00 a.m.

North Georgia is one step closer to the high-speed Internet that Vice President Joe Biden promised would come with federal recovery funds.

Parts of eight counties whose access to high-speed service has previously been blocked by the mountains will have it in early 2012, said Bruce Abraham, the president and Chief Executive Officer of North Georgia Network.

Abraham's organization is behind a $42 million project to bring broadband to North Georgia.

Most of the project is funded with federal money sent to Georgia through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The project consists of a 260-mile fiber optic ring that should be completed by the end of January 2012.

Construction has already broken the barrier of the mountains, crossing Clayton Mountain and the Appalachian Trail.

According to a news release, the North Georgia Network cooperated with environmental groups and state and federal agencies to cross the protected natural areas.

"We're very environmentally conscience because that's a national landmark across there," Abraham said. "We took extremely careful precautions, and everybody was pleased with the way we approached the crossing."

The North Georgia Network is a nonprofit organization seeking "to improve economic development and education" in the area, according to a news release.

The fiber optic ring is supposed to benefit schools, governments, hospitals and industries in North Georgia.

The project directly benefits Dawson, Forsyth, Habersham, Lumpkin, Rabun, Towns, Union and White counties.

More lines will spur off the fiber optic ring, creating a 1,000-mile network. Abraham says more than 500 miles of the network have already been built.

The total project will connect to lines in Atlanta in two directions. It is expected to be complete by December 2011.

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