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State working to expand broadband, Wi-Fi access
A new website will help Georgians know about the ways they can connect to high-speed internet.
Governor Brian Kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp adresses the media during a press conference on March 12, 2020 about COVID-19. - photo by Special to The Covington News

ATLANTA — A new website will help Georgians know about the ways they can connect to high-speed internet.

Gov. Brian Kemp and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs on Monday launched The site will help residents find locations where they can drive to find Wi-Fi access made available by telecommunications cooperatives and government agencies.

Kemp noted that many public libraries are closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but some — including the ones in Walton County — continue to offer Wi-Fi that can be accessed outside their buildings.

“Georgia’s public libraries have long been a center of learning,” state librarian Julie Walker said. “The vast majority of public libraries across the state have Wi-Fi that is free and openly available from the parking lot, often 24 hours each day.”

Kemp said high-speed internet is important for residents to be able to continue to receive care and education, and to telework during shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re grateful so many internet and mobile phone providers have stepped up to meet Georgians’ connectivity needs in this critical time,” he said.

People who visit public Wi-Fi locations are urged to remain in their cars or otherwise keep the social distancing guidelines, staying 6 feet from others.

“Most internet service providers and mobile phone carriers are generously making it easy and free for Georgians to connect to the internet,” DCA Commissioner Christopher Nunn said.

“The state is working to assist Georgians in finding these important options.”

The new website will offer tools to help residents find low-cost internet service options.

“Broadband is an essential part of our everyday lives and is an especially vital lifeline to remain healthy and continue working and learning at home,” Deana Perry, the Georgia Broadband Deployment executive director, said.

“During this unprecedented time, the state has identified existing resources and continues to work on longer-range solutions to get more Georgians connected to high-speed internet.”

Caitlin Dooley, the deputy superintendent of teaching and learning, noted the closure of public schools until at least April 24.

“One of the biggest challenges coming to light during the pandemic is the internet connectivity barriers facing rural areas of the state,” she said. “Internet connectivity for Georgia’s students and teachers is more important than ever.”