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Jones County, Georgia gets high-speed internet, broadband

By the end of two years, they should have provided service to all of their EMC members through more than 1,600 miles of fiber.

JONES COUNTY, Ga. — It's 2021 and for many Americans, the internet isn't anything new, except some folks living in rural areas are still having trouble connecting.

It's been a problem in Georgia, but now, there's progress. 

You might even see the progress in Jones County.

That's where crews with Tri-County EMC are laying miles of cables.

We spoke with a couple in Gray who can now stream movies on YouTube TV, stay better connected with relatives on Facebook, and they say, the best of them all, now their grandkids can come over and do their homework.

Nestled just inside Jones County, one home finally connects to broadband services.

"There's no comparison, really. It's just we got the one gigabyte service and it's just tremendous, the difference is," said Gary Thomas.

Gary and Judy Thomas had been waiting more than two decades for access to high-speed internet in their home.

"Every time we'd see them in front of somebody's house, I'd say, 'No, no, come here first,'" Judy Thomas said.

Tri-County EMC started the project  more than a year ago by putting together a feasibility study. 

Then, in May, they started building fiber with the goal of serving portions of eight counties, including Jones.

"We do think that adding fiber internet to an area will enhance economic development, and it will allow folks to move there and work from home, so it will definitely help with the local economy, but it will also help people have some flexibility to work from home," Mullis said.

According to Greg Mullis, Tri-County's Chief Operating Officer, crews of about 12 to 15 work days and nights and even on Saturdays to make sure all the wires connect properly to their hut houses. 

The inside of their huts house all of the electronics necessary to bring fiber internet to your home.

"He was all about speed and performance. I was all about saving the money," Judy Thomas said.

Gary Thomas said, "We're kind of hoping before long, everybody will have it. It'll make things easier like that -- communication in school."

So far, Tri-County says it has added more than 130 miles of fiber lines just in Jones County, and more than 1,000 members there have registered to get access.

Tri-county EMC hooked up more than 100 customers in Jones County, so far.

The goal is to build 20 miles of fiber per week.

By the end of two years, they should have provided service to all of their EMC members through more than 1,600 miles of fiber.

In total, about 8,500 folks in Jones County should be getting access by the time they are finished.