On July 20, 2021, Governor Brian Kemp, Coastal Electric Cooperative, and Darien Communications made a joint announcement of the creation of Coastal Fiber, an affiliate of Coastal Electric Cooperative.
The new partnership between Coastal Electric Cooperative and Darien Communications will impact 16,000 Coastal Electric customers in 3 counties – Bryan, Liberty, and Long. Coastal Electric customers in McIntosh County will continue to receive their broadband service directly from Darien Communications.
Coastal Electric and Darien Communications will invest $39.5 million over the life of the project.
The partners are presently still in the design phase. Actual construction on the first phase of the project will begin this fall. The aim is to connect the first customers by January 2022 – increasing business opportunities, enriching education, improving access to healthcare, and much more.
Phase one of the project will reach the most unserved and underserved areas of east Liberty County including Sunbury and Colonels Island. Also included is a portion of Coastal Electric’s service territory in Long County. A map will be available soon, but there are three general areas to be served in the initial project: everything down Island’s Hwy from I-95 to Colonels Island, the Hwy 119 corridor from Riceboro out to Long Reach substation, and the Hwy 17 South corridor from Riceboro to I-95. The second phase will serve customers in Bryan County, many of whom already have a choice of two or three broadband providers.
Eventually, Coastal Electric will bring fiber to every member home that has an electric meter as well as other homes within our geographic territory that receive electricity from other electric companies.
Coastal Electric Cooperative was founded more than 80 years ago as a not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperative to electrify the unserved areas of rural coastal Georgia. Our core mission then was to provide safe, reliable, and affordable electricity.
Today, in addition to providing electricity, Coastal Electric Cooperative has been intently focused on helping find solutions to another challenge for some of our members – expanding reliable, high-speed Internet access.
The lack of broadband in the most rural communities within our service territory has been critical for years – exacerbated by COVID-19 and the closure of classrooms and businesses.
Operationally, Coastal Fiber will build the fiber lines either overhead or underground in existing rights of way and provide the service drop to the outside of the home. Darien Communications, operating under the Coastal Fiber brand, will provide the in-the-home router, customer service, and billing.
Coastal Fiber chose Darien Communications as our partner because they are a local, family-owned business with a stellar record of customer service. They have built a 1-gigabit fiber network throughout most of the rural areas of McIntosh County. (They still have some pockets of 200 MB broadband over coaxial cable.)
Even if a customer does not choose to be served by Coastal Fiber, the fiber optic cable connection to their home will facilitate connectivity to the next generation of electric meters which will provide increased reliability and an enhanced array of services not currently available; however, construction will be prioritized to those locations that are requesting broadband service.
Electric cooperatives in Georgia have committed to invest more than $580 million in broadband to ensure their members have high-speed Internet service.
In total, these projects are set to impact more than 200,000 Georgians in 62 counties in the state.