The North Georgia Network has reached a critical point in Cleveland — namely a point on its main 260-mile loop of fiber optic cable at which high-speed Internet service can be built out to nearby businesses, homes and schools.
That point, called a Core Point-of-Presence, was installed at White County High School. Principal John Osborne said the school will be hooked into the new faster Internet speeds starting Tuesday.
"We are a system that is pretty doggone technology savvy," Osborne said. "We use a lot of iPads with our students and our teachers, and it's going to help us stream uninterrupted throughout the day and evening."
Jeff Butler, spokesman for the North Georgia Network, said Habersham EMC is the Internet provider and will be rolling out service in stages, with the schools and businesses getting access first. Residents interested in the service should contact Habersham EMC to find out when it may be coming to their area.
Butler noted that for the schools, the faster speeds will allow for things like distance learning, in which a teacher in one place can teach a group of students in another place via real-time video.
Osborne noted the service will be especially helpful to the high school's TV production class.
"The bottom line is that it's going to increase our bandwidth and speed and productivity," he said. "It's not only that program, but especially that program because any time you're streaming video ... it takes so much bandwidth."
Currently, Osborne said the school has to reboot the system because of buffering problems.
"Right now our real setback is actual Internet speed; in order for our 1,100 students to stream simultaneously is not even close to realistic right now," he said. "But come Tuesday that will not be the case."
Tom O'Bryant, White County Director of Community and Economic Development, said in a news release that the new service will give schools in White the same access to information that schools in Atlanta have.
"We know this is going to change the shape of business and education in White County and open up avenues for growth in both areas for years to come," O'Bryant said.
The entire network when complete will run 1,100 miles through Dawson, Forsyth, Habersham, Lumpkin, Rabun, Towns, Union and White counties. The project is costing $42 million, funded in large part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Other points will be built in Dahlonega, Dawsonville and Cumming by the end of the year. Two other points will be installed in existing buildings at the most southern and northern points in Atlanta and Blairsville. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 30.
"It's going to change the whole complexion of education in White County," Osborne said. "We're going to be able to be as ... progressive as we've wanted to be now. We're going to have no limitations."