Traditional telecommunications companies are generally remiss to bring
high-powered networking lines to small towns. But such reticence hardly
matters to the town of Newnan, Ga., 30 miles southwest of Atlanta.
Thanks to Newnan Utilities, a municipal-owned provider of services ranging
from water and sewer to cable television and dial-tone telephone services,
this community of 16,000 people has one of the best rural networks in the
The utility provider got into the broadband networking business not
because of overwhelming customer demand but to improve its own efficiency,
installing a fiber-optic network back in 1993 to streamline its water, sewer
and electric distribution. The investment has paid off.
"It's incredibly profitable for us," said Ellis Cadenhead, assistant
general manager for Newnan Utilities.
And it is profitable for the town as well, which has had several businesses
relocate to this bedroom community in the past few years, thanks in large
part to the existence of the 10 megabits/ sec network.
For Newnan Utilities, stumbling into the data networking arena has changed
its whole business outlook. The provider has begun to extend its network
to the rest of Coweta County, will add voice-over-IP and video streaming
capabilities in the near future, and has expressed interest in building
the regional fiber-optic network being planned by the West Georgia Telecommunications
Alliance in nearby Carrollton.
— Heather Hayes is a free-lance writer based in Stuarts Draft, Va.