Tallapoosa council members heard from a representative of Comcast that the company is working its way through the list of people who have requested service from the company on its new beefed up network in the county.
Andy Macke, vice president of external affairs for the company, said that he believes the company has reached all of the original customers of Comcast and will be moving through the territory to reach new customers who have shown interest.
The company updated and expanded its service to the city and to areas including the city of Waco over the past six months. The total investment was more than $2.1 million.
“Part of this is catch-up work,” Macke said. “We’re dealing with years of under service in this community.”
The construction was finished ahead of schedule and has gone fairly smoothly, he said. The service is divided by node, he said. Each node serves a certain footprint of customers and as each node is turned on, those customers are then able to receive broadband service, Macke said.
“A couple little bumps in the road, specifically we had some people who were scheduled for installs before maybe their nodes were turned on,” Macke said. “For the most part we have everybody cut over.”
The company has doubled its customer base in the county, he said.
There is a second phase of work the company hopes to do to expand into areas that are currently unserved in the county but are adjacent to its service footprint. That should serve another about 556 households at a cost of about $1.5 million. But that phase has not yet been scheduled, Macke said.
“We do have a couple of construction projects,” he said. “I know we’re building two additional nodes now that weren’t part of the original design — I can’t say exactly where they are — and then I know we’re building on a stretch along 78.”
But he invited people at the meeting to email him their addresses to see if they could be added to the expansion.
The project in Tallapoosa was a test for the company to pave the way for 10 projects across the state, Macke said.
“This was a great demonstration for us,” he said. “One of the things that facilitated this project and projects in Carroll County has been really good working relationship with Georgia Power and even Carroll EMC.”
But he added that a decision by the Public Service Commission to increase pole rental rates and to change the terms and conditions of the rentals could slow the work moving forward. The company is looking at its options right now, Macke said. And absent a firm funding source, some other project may take precedence over phase two in Haralson County, he said.
There may be funding opportunities with the new stimulus package. That package included $300 million in funding for rural broadband. The rules for accessing that money are still being drafted.
“We are watching that closely for an opportunity to get some of these other projects done,” Macke said. “Just as we are committed to try to figure out how to get broadband here in Tallapoosa and to continue to grow that, we are equally committed to getting it done in those other communities.”
In other business, council members:
• heard from Ryan Farmer, who declared his intention to run for the District 4 County Commission seat left vacant by the death of former Commissioner Brad Vines.
• heard from Councilwoman Jacqueline Roberts a request to pray for the family of Mayor William “Pete” Bridges who died on Dec. 26.
“Pete was very dedicated to the citizens of Tallapoosa,” she said through tears. “I hope that we can carry on what Pete started.”
Councilman Jonathan James said when Bridges died, the whole city suffered a blow.
“We need to remember the whole community,” James said.
The council also:
• heard that the city will combine the election for mayor with the already scheduled election on Nov. 2 for Post 1 and 2 City Council seats currently held by Raymond Ballew and Dan Pope. All elections will be at large.
• approved allowing City Manager Philip Eidson to sign a contract with Georgia Power for easements on streets including Lipham, Arbacoochee and Highway 78.
• reappointed Councilwoman Roberts as mayor pro tem. She will take over chairing the Council meetings until a new mayor is elected.
• heard that an existing Tallapoosa police officer will be appointed to serve as marshal to enforce the city’s zoning codes.