Newton commissioners OK contract with Paladin Wireless for better broadband access

Mar 20, 2019


COVINGTON — Newton County commissioners on Tuesday approved a contract with Paladin Wireless for a project designed to improve broadband internet access in underserved areas of the county.

District 1 Commissioner Stan Edwards, who spearheaded the project, made the motion to approve the contract “with pleasure.” Edwards joked later that he would offer his neighborhood as a beta test site for the new service. Edwards represents some of the more rural areas of the county.

With Edwards’ encouragement, the county has been looking for ways to improve broadband access for several months. Commissioners heard a presentation from Paladin Wireless owner Steve Fortmann in October and then decided to issue a Request for Proposals for broadband service. Paladin, based in Royston, was the only company to submit a bid.

Under the terms of the 30-year contract approved Tuesday, Paladin will lease a UHF spectrum owned by the county to provide service in Newton County and beyond. Paladin will pay the county $7.50 per month per subscriber for use of the spectrum. The fee will be reviewed every five years and adjusted based on the Consumer Price Index.

A portion of the spectrum will be reserved for county use for emergency services.

Fortmann told commissioners in October that he has created broadband systems in several underserved North Georgia cities and counties using Nokia radio transmitter/receivers that are installed on top of water towers and other municipal structures. Fortmann said that, using Newton County’s UHF spectrum, he could potentially reach 20,000 subscribers in 21 counties.