As work progresses on Columbia County’s broadband network, officials have hired an international firm to help them sell it.
Commissioners recently approved the development of a business plan by Jacobs Telecommunications, a global engineering firm with Georgia offices in Atlanta and Columbus, for $97,000.
The plan will include a strategy for customer acquisition; a model for financial management; a market analysis of services needed by homes and businesses; a portfolio for services and rates; and revenue forecasts, according to county documents.
Commissioners also recently approved using Jacobs Engineering Group, the parent company of Jacobs Telecommunications, as an on-call consultant for the broadband utility.
On June 5, officials approved a contract of about $875,000 with California-based Cyan Inc. to provide infrastructure services for a carrier ethernet, a high-bandwith technology for Internet access.
In other broadband news, the commission agreed to hire Atlanta-based ANSCO & Associates Inc. as a provider for emergency restoration services for the fiber optic network.
According to documents, ANSCO & Associates will be available around the clock at a maximum two-hour response time if the broadband network needs repair during the two-year term of the contract.
ANSCO might charge as much as $3,500 for repair work, according to a cost schedule provided by the company. County officials budgeted $40,000 for potential repairs.
The 220-mile fiber-optic network and wireless-communication towers are part of an $18 million project, with $13.5 million coming from a federal stimulus grant, to make broadband services accessible to all areas of the county. The installation is set to conclude this year with Internet services possibly available by early next year.
County officials have said they don’t intend to become a residential Internet service provider. They hope to lease the use of their fiber-optic network to providers such as Comcast and Knology.
Officials plan to use the broadband network as an economic incentive by offering cheap, possibly free, access to the broadband lines, County Administrator Scott Johnson said earlier this year.
County officials hope such a tool might lure high-tech firms to expand or move to the county.