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City close on contract for new Internet option
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Following a special called meeting Dec. 17, the city of Dawsonville is one step closer to having a new option when it comes to high-speed Internet service.

The city council voted 3-0, with Angie Smith absent, to approve a contract with Cleveland-based Appalachian Broadband Technologies Wireless.

The wireless network will transmit an Internet signal from the Trailwave high-speed fiber optic network to relays around the city, and from there to local customers' receivers.

"When we design a system, we do it to be community specific," said Rich Tarpley, president and CEO of the company. "By using the fiber optics as the backbone, we have loads of bandwidth available."

The council authorized Mayor James Grogan to sign the contract once the wording has been finalized.

According to the agreement, Dawsonville will handle the billing for the company. For every residential and commercial customer, ABT will then pay the city 5 percent of the monthly billings.

"The contract also allows ABT to put [wireless receiver] antennas on the water towers at the cemetery and at Burt's Crossing to be able to bounce the [wireless] signals off," Grogan said.

The deal also allows for further expansion, as Grogan said he anticipates "there would be other things in the future" for network growth.

"[City Attorney] Dana [Miles], Rich and I have been working on this agreement for some time," Grogan said. "It's been revised a few times and we're confident in what we have."

Officials estimate that the service will be available sometime in mid- to late January.

Dawsonville has been testing the wireless network since October with select local businesses. It also was tested by ABT at the Moonshine Festival, during which more than 1,000 devices were connected at one time.

"The city doesn't have any cost in the infrastructure," said Councilman Chris Gaines. "We have not spent any taxpayer money on this system. Everything is being done by ABT Wireless. Not a dime is coming from the city."

Grogan said during the meeting that residents are anxious to have access to the network.

"We have people already begging to be signed up, even before the ordinance was officially approved," he said.