Point Broadband introduced as new company for rural internet

By: Powell Cobb

The Post Searchlight Original Article here.

Decatur County residents subscribed to Turner Broadband have grown more and more concerned over the past year with failing internet service and connection issues.

Owner Shane Turner spoke to the Decatur County Board of Commissioners Tuesday and introduced Jason Gaunt, the new COO of a company that is taking over Turner Broadband to provide fast and reliable internet service to customers around the county.

Point Broadband, recently formed through ITC Capital Partners, LLC in West Point, Georgia, has plans to launch services across three states starting as early as Feb. 1 in Cuthbert, Gauntt said. ITC Capital Partners has 130 years of experience in the telecommunications field, and both Gauntt and Turner are confident the services to be offered will be competitive and affordable.

“It sounds like it is going to be something pretty good for the Turner Broadband network and Decatur County,” Turner said.

According to Gauntt, 93 percent of Georgia has access to 10 megabit or higher connection speeds. It just so happens Decatur County is part of the other 7 percent.

“With the population that resides in this county, the existing customer base and the access to certain other infrastructure, it’s a very compelling story for us to go in and take a lot harder look, which we have done,” Gauntt said.

By Friday, Gauntt and Turner are expected to have a contract solidifying the merger. Also on the to-do list is a contract with Decatur County that will spell out the stipulations for Point Broadband to use county towers to mount its equipment on.

Additional equipment and upgrades to the current Turner Broadband equipment are in the works, Gauntt said.

“Hopefully we get the agreement tied down with Turner,” Gauntt said. “We want to stabilize the existing customers that are on the network today, and we are going to replace all the equipment that is on towers serving customers today with new, next-generational equipment to offer a new, more reliable service.”

Gauntt also alluded to the possibility of offering telephone and cable services down the road so customers would not have to rely on two or more providers at their homes.

“We are that confident,” Gauntt said.

The rough price range for service is between $60-$70 with connection speeds of five, 10 or 15 megabits. Commercial packages will also be offered that will cost more, but provide guaranteed service without a data cap.

Point Broadband is conducting studies across the county and compiling data to form heat maps, which show coverage points that will indicate where service will be.

Gauntt said he expected Point Broadband to be offering internet service to Decatur County within the next four months.
“Shane and his staff have done all they can,” Gauntt said. “It’s time now for us to come in and help him. A new face.”

As for new jobs, Gauntt said the success of the company will determine how many positions are created. If Point Broadband can return to the 3,000 customers Turner Broadband once had, then up to five new jobs could be made, he said.