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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal by clicking here. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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BREAKING NEWS: Could Broadband Be Coming to a City Near You?
By Editor Becky Watts

ZEBULON - The lack of internet throughout the county is an issue that is regularly discussed on social media and can even be a deciding factor for someone moving into Pike County. Options have been few and far between over the years with some options of late, but there is a new outlook on internet access that brings a second look to a necessity that many in the big city take for granted… until they move to a location where there is no internet access or that access is less than stellar. Something exciting is happening in Pike County that has been tried before but never made it to the level that might be possible now. Broadband internet may be coming to a city near you!


Beth Camp, a candidate for State House District 131, has dealt with this issue first hand because she is a member of the Pike County Board of Education. COVID-19 closed schools at the end of the year, and the lack of internet access has made learning from home difficult for many students.

On September 10, 2020, Rural Georgia Initiatives offered a webinar highlighting successful broadband stories in rural communities throughout the state. Mayor Steve Ledbetter gave a presentation on how the City of Woodbury “utilized its current assets to become its own ISP to serve its citizens.”

Beth watched the webinar and was interested enough that she set up an in-person meeting to see this internet ready community with Mayor Ledbetter on September 16 with Concord Mayor John Strickland and Williamson Mayor Steve Fry. What they saw impressed them enough that both mayors asked for more information for their cities.

Broadband has been a part of Camp’s platform because it is a need that is constantly asked about by voters in the Pike, Upson, and Lamar County areas. “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” she said. “Collaboration and talking to people is how to get things done.”


Concord Mayor John Strickland advised that the City of Concord is moving forward with this system. Information was presented to the City Council and plans are in motion to try a system similar to that of the City of Woodbury for its own citizens. There will be a period of waiting as the system in Woodbury must be finished and some necessary details must be completed in Concord before the system can be put into place, but it is coming.

Scott Tyson of Low Voltage Specialists LLC (LVS) out of LaGrange has been in business for a long time. Mayor Strickland said that LVS started in Callaway Gardens before putting a system in place in Woodbury. He changed up his system in order to fit the needs of a small town. This was approved by the City Council in Concord a couple of weeks ago.

Mayor Strickland advised that this is similar to the system that Britain Turner was trying to put into place here in Pike County. Fiber optic has already been committed by AT&T in both Concord and Williamson, and Williamson is looking at the same system for its residents.

There will be a $35,000 outlay for the City of Concord in this specialized city layout for providing internet as a service like sewer or water. There would also be a monthly cost for the fiber that is required to provide this service.

Mayor Strickland said that he talked to citizens in Woodbury who are pleased with their internet. “The cost is not exhorbitantly high, and Council is backing it,” said Mayor Strickland. “Citizens want it.” Mayor Strickland advised that the City will be working with AT&T over the next month or so.

“We are not looking at it as a money-making venture,” he said. “This will be a service that the city is providing.” He said that there is so much demand. He said that this will not be 100% but that this company gave him hope. “We’re working on it and will be looking for customers in the future.”

When the system in finally in place, the City of Concord will be billing for internet like a utility for those living in the city. It’s not a “done deal” at this point, but the city is working on this.

“We will know more in a couple of weeks,” said Mayor Strickland. “We will do sign ups after that.”


Mayor Steve Fry and Councilman Tom Brown joined the discussion on whether the City of Williamson could offer broadband for its citizens with Mayor Strickland and Beth Camp at the meeting in Woodbury. Scott Tyson of Low Voltage Specialists LLC (LVS) and Woodbury Mayor Steve Ledbetter spoke at the Williamson’s last council meeting to give them some specifics.

There would be a $25,000 outlay for the City of Williamson There would also be a monthly cost to those providing the fiber for this service. Tyson is negotiating with AT&T on Williamson’s behalf. U-verse is available through fiber in some parts of the city. Mayor Fry said that a lot of small towns are asking about these services. “We are still pursuing it,” he said.

Range for this system is stated at about 2 miles, but the amount of foliage affects whether a signal can be received or not. Customers could be looking at prices as low as $35 per month inside of the city and $45 outside of the city limits. Upload and download speeds could be as high as 25 mbps. Possibilities—depending on the foliage—could include Eagles Landing and Ranchland Estates. “We also should reach Barnstormers Grill and the Peach State (Ron Alexander Memorial Field) Airfield area with the projected coverage. They are less than one mile from our water tank, which is where our antennae would be,” said Mayor Fry. “The Church of Joy is a touch over two miles and may require a relay/repeater to reach it but is still a possibility.”

The City of Williamson, if it were to move forward with providing this service, could break even on its investment in 19 months—maybe sooner. The City is in line for this capability at this time, but Woodbury must be completed first and then the same goes for Concord.


City of Zebulon Administrator Larry Mitcham advised that the City of Zebulon has inquired about this system, but it is basically getting information at this point. Administrator Mitcham and Zebulon Mayor Joe Walter attended a meeting about 3 weeks ago along with Williamson Mayor Steve Fry and Concord Mayor John Strickland.

The City of Zebulon is waiting on a signal test to determine the viability of this type of system for its citizens. The signal test will determine optimal placement and give needed information to the Mayor, Administrator, and City Council on whether this type of system will work for its citizens.


Woodbury Mayor Steve Ledbetter advised that the City of Molena has also looked into the system. Pike County Times spoke with Council Member Glenn Beckham to find out that Molena has made an inquiry as to whether there is a possibility to tag onto Woodbury’s system at a reasonable cost.

Molena does not have fiber in the city so this unique situation and possibilities of this system will need to be discussed at length. The City of Molena will meet in the future to discuss this in detail.


Pike County Times spoke to County Manager Brandon Rogers and inquired about whether the county is looking into this opportunity. County Manager Rogers advised that the county is looking into every opportunity for internet for its citizens including this system.

The Pike County Commission will be presented with his research at an upcoming meeting. [Note from the Editor: More information is included from last night's commission meeting below.]


How did this story begin? Concord Mayor Strickland, Williamson Mayor Fry, and Molena Councilman Glenn Beckham reached out to Mayor Steve Ledbetter after Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development Amy Carter and Broadband Executive Director Deana Perry did learning sessions across Middle Georgia. The webinar was entited” “Rural Broadband – Community Success Stories. Mayor Steve Ledbetter was a keynote speaker who gave presentations on how the City of Woodbury utilized its current assets to become its own ISP to serve its citizens. [Note from the Editor: The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has been working with rural Georgia cities and counties on the problem of broadband access. Commissioner Carter names broadband as being in the top three challenges that people in rural areas are facing.]

Mayor Ledbetter showed them how the system is set up on Woodbury and how it is working. All contacted Scott Tyson from LVS to see how the system might be able to work in their area. Concord and Williamson would require working with the company that has laid fiber in their area in order to set up a system. Molena would be different because it has no fiber so a water tower antenna system on from Woodbury to Molena might be able to be used to bring broadband there.

Mayor Ledbetter said; “Education is at the forefront, as well as getting businesses and employees access to broadband during these turbulent times. All twelve units of the Housing Authority have been recently linked to broadband access.”

Woodbury was recently designated as a Rural Zone City. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the State of Georgia are investing in the City of Woodbury. There are only a maximum of 10 cities each year and gives employee tax credits, 25% tax credits for the initial investment, and 30% tax credits for rehabilitation of a building for businesses that locate inside of a defined area. A veterinarian with two techs is locating inside of the old City Hall and will be getting $110,000 worth of tax credits over the next 5 years. 38 cities throughout the state have been designated as rural zones. “We’ve got a lot going on here,” said Mayor Ledbetter. And he commended the City of Woodbury staff for their phenomenal work.

“The Council afforded me the opportunity to spend $45,000 out of the general budget,” he said, “so none of this was grant money and all of it was paid for by the citizens of Woodbury.” The city is able to bring in 1 gig of speed that is shared across the entire city for that $45,000 with average speeds of 170 to 180 mbps both up and down for residents and businesses.

He asked the council to help those who are a part of the system to own their own equipment so they have ownership in this venture and are taking care of their own equipment. It is about $200 for the equipment including the installation, and then they pay a fee of $35 per month for the internet service. “I didn’t want our citizens to pay $75or $80 a month for the internet and then the city pay for all the equipment,” he said. “If we pay $75 or $80, by the time the third month comes around, the city has already paid for the equipment and the price continues ad nauseum and the city would make a fortune. But that’s not what this about.”

What is this about? It’s about providing a service to our community at the lowest possible price so business and residents can use the service. It’s a service provided by the city and not a money-making venture. “We want to be sure we’re taking care of our community,” he said.


Scott Tyson and Mike Larson are the co-owners of Low Voltage Specialists (LVS) out of LaGrange, Georgia. He has grown up in the business and watched it grow over the past 30 years. LVS specializes in phone systems, alarms, and IT networks.

When asked about the process that is being used for the City of Woodbury, he said that the City wanted a system that could provide broadband for its citizens and only charge a small revenue that would be used to maintain its equipment. This would be accomplished using a very new method through trial and error.

“Yes, it can be done,” Tyson said. “No other company is doing what we’re doing.” Foliage, tree lines, and buildings have been a challenge though!

Tyson wanted to build this up and see how it worked in smaller cities so communities can afford what his company is offering. He said that this has worked out a lot better than anticipated, and that there are 7 cities wanting this “yesterday.” He has even gotten calls from North Georgia.

However, before LVS can move on to begin work in other cities, the City of Woodbury needs to be completed. Tyson praised those who are working with him on this project saying that they were the best crew—both experienced and knowledgeable.

He also gave the reason for why LVS is working on this system and said that it isn’t about making money. “This is about providing something for smaller communities that should have been done a long time ago.”

Tyson said that is project got his interest because he knows what it is like to have to drive to get decent internet. “I grew up in a small town and had to drive to work to do a job that I couldn’t do from home,” he said. And COVID-19 has reversed the process because kids are attending online classes and many people are working from home. “I am going to do all I can with the resources I have to get this done.”

LVS wants to help rural areas get up to the same speed as the cities. He said that he is working toward a personal goal of a minimum of 50 mbps per household. Tyson said that they have had some obstacles and are learning from experience, but that is allowing him to provide more jobs and helping a lot of people in a lot of ways that he never imagined.

In the meantime, Tyson said that everyone is working together and being patient. That is needed while LVS finalizes its plan for the City of Woodbury and deals with any obstacles that have come about.

Tyson hopes that other companies will see this and maybe there can be some collaboration so they can work together to help get other companies up to speed on providing for projects like the City of Woodbury.


Broadband was one of the topics of discussion in the County Manager’s report to the commissioners last night. County Manager Brandon Rogers said that he talked with the Mayor of Concord over the past couple of weeks about broadband.

A company is looking to provide broadband to the city. It would benefit the county and the city to allow them to expand beyond the city limits. The city of Concord is moving forward with this. Williamson, Zebulon, and Molena are looking at this as well. The service will not allow them to go county-wide and we as a county probably couldn’t afford it anyway, but this would allow them to provide county citizens outside of the city limits with internet. And the county could possibly pick up dead spots later.

County Manager Rogers said that he will bring more information to commissioners as it is becomes available. He asked for a vote of confidence on this. He also advised that Mayor Strickland is willing to provide this service and allow the county to tack on a small fee so we can pay for other towers in the county. If this works out, this could potentially serve the entire county. This could probably go out as far as 5 miles.

County Manager Rogers said of the project in Concord: “This is something that is GOING to happen.” He also said that there are some other options like with Spectrum running fiber in the City of Zebulon. Commissioners gave a verbal consensus. He said that he hopes to have more information in November.


COVID-19 has changed how things used to be done and made working and schooling from home a necessity these days. For those who do not have access to decent internet options though, it is difficult to function without leaving the house to go to the library or some other place that provides internet access. Especially for uploads. Sufficient internet access is needed for students, those working from home, and businesses that might not be located in specific locations with access to decent internet. Many different options are coming to fruition when it comes to access in cities and throughout the county. LVS is offering an option for cities that is not the norm around here.

The idea of a city offering internet access in a fashion similar to water or sewer is different, but it seems to be working in the City of Woodbury. Concord is making the jump as soon as the City of Woodbury is complete, and the cities of Williamson, Zebulon, and Molena are watching closely.

Pike County Times will keep an eye on the situation and report as changes are made. There are a multitude of options that are opening up for broadband in our community from private companies to a city option like this to even satellite at some point in the future. Who knows but decent internet access could soon be coming to a location near you!

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