ATLANTA, Ga. – A new broadband partnership promises to bring high-speed internet to 80,000 homes and businesses in middle Georgia.

Gov. Brian Kemp, joined by other state leaders, announced Monday the partnership between the Central Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, Southern Rivers Energy and Conexon, which will benefit 18 counties come June.

The governor said the last year highlighted just how critical access to broadband is for health care, education and jobs — and simply keeping in touch with loved ones.

“For the past 10 months, we have learned about the importance of the internet,” Kemp said. “Whether at the doctor’s office or on Main Street, high-quality internet is important to each and every one of us.”

Through a partnership between the three EMCs, around 80,000 homes in 18 counties in middle Georgia are expected to have better access to rural broadband by June.

Governor Kemp says faster internet will help students have better access to online learning and will also provide telemedicine access to rural hospitals and health clinics.

“As the country faced a once in a century pandemic, it became clear the critical the access to broadband internet in our communities, especially rural ones, better healthcare, for education outcomes, job opportunities and just keeping in touch with loved ones,” said Governor Kemp.

Governor Kemp said the expansion of rural broadband will also help farmers and entrepreneurs with small businesses and more bring jobs to the state, outside of the metro Atlanta area.

“We have spoken to farmers, entrepreneurs, economic development all eager to see their communities grow in the 21st century. Many of these issues in rural Georgia cannot be fixed with a one size fits all approach.”

Governor Kemp has allocated $20-million dollars for this fiscal year and an additional $10-million dollars for future years to boost rural broadband access in the state.

“When we think of economic opportunity for all Georgians, broadband access is a foundation of that success. Internet is the interstate of today’s world and we cannot reach out full potential if our students, entrepreneurs, medical providers don’t have access to our digital highway,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan.