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Fiber optic work nears completion
Will bring region high-speed Internet
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Construction of a fiber optic network that could mean lightning-fast Internet service for thousands of businesses and households in north Georgia is nearing completion.

Crews were in downtown Dawsonville last week installing what is described as middle- and last-mile fiber runs. These lines will connect to core lines that were put in over the last several months.

"Those middle- and last-mile fiber runs will then form to be the connections for actual customers," said Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Dawson County Development Authority.

Dawson is among eight counties that will benefit from the North Georgia Network, a cooperative designed to attract technology-reliant businesses and jobs to north Georgia. The $42 million grant project began in 2009.

"Over the past decades, we've seen technology influence where businesses locate," said North Georgia Network President Bruce Abraham in a release last month. "First technology-dependent businesses were in downtown Atlanta, then they moved up Ga. 400 to areas like Windward Parkway.

"By creating the North Georgia Network, we've put into place the infrastructure to attract top companies to north Georgia. The network is for those who will come and for those who are already here."

Funded through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the technology will offer the same broadband speeds as world-class cities such as Hong Kong, London and New York.

The project consists of a 260-mile fiber optic ring that connects Dawson, Forsyth, Habersham, Lumpkin, Rabun, Towns, Union and White counties, areas where high-speed service had previously been affected by the mountains.

"The entire project is expected to be completed by August," Auvermann said. "The last-mile run connects all the counties. At that point, connections to customers will be completed."

Teams are in the communities offering commercial businesses the chance to sign on to the network.

Auvermann and state Sen. Steve Gooch, director of the Lumpkin County Development Authority, also worked with the North Georgia Network to secure $2 million in savings from the original grant to help fund the local last mile sections.

"This will go a long way in getting this up and down streets where there's a pretty heavy commercial presence," Auvermann said.