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Stimulus may pay for Hall County broadband network
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Hall County is hoping to earn a federal grant to acquire its own broadband Internet system.

A $3.2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant would cover the cost of building a county wireless network.

Public Safety Director Marty Nix said if the county gets the grant, it would save thousands in service costs each year.

"Currently we lease those date circuits right now from commercial carriers to the tune of about $60,000 a year," Nix said. "So if we’re able to own our own network instead of having to lease those lines, operationally we could save potentially $60,000 a year."

The wireless network would serve the needs of a variety of county offices.

"We can provide data to some of the outlying offices we have around the county, some of the fire stations, office buildings, tag offices and community centers," Nix said.

Without the grant, the county would not be able build its own system, he said.

"To build one on your own would be quite expensive, so the return on investment doesn’t make sense," Nix said. "But if the money is available through the stimulus package and if we can get it done then it makes a lot of sense."

Nix said the grant would be even better for the county because the existing 800MHz radio towers could be used as the required local match.

"It requires a 20 percent match, but we’re using the 20 percent in-kind in that we’re going to use our existing tower infrastructure," Nix said. "We’re going to be using our towers to put our equipment on. The cost of building those towers we’ve already expended."

Nix said though it would be a great savings for the county to receive the competitive grant, business will go on as usual if it does not.

"We’ll put in for it and if we get it, it’d be great," he said. "It’s always good when you can operate your own network instead of having to lease it. We’re just trying to figure out ways to save operational costs for the taxpayers."

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