In general, the economy of Northeast Florida has been driven by industries such as tourism, healthcare, finance, and transportation, among others. The region has seen growth in recent years, with new businesses and industries setting up in the area, creating job opportunities and boosting the local economy. However, the overall economic performance of the region may also be influenced by various factors such as changes in consumer behavior, technological advancements, and shifts in global economic conditions. Most notably the role that telecom expansion has had on all industries in a post Covid-19 world where working remote is proving to be a trend that will stay for many years to come.
Rural areas in 41 counties in Florida, including Clay, St. Johns, and Putnam, will receive better broadband internet access through 58 expansion projects funded by $144 million in state grants, benefiting nearly 160,000 previously unserved locations, according to state officials.
“Connecting these communities, particularly in rural and small areas of the state, is really going to be a game-changer to get these folks the opportunities they need to participate in job training; to expand what they have got going in their lives and improve everything around them,” said Ben Melnick, deputy secretary for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
State officials announced that the Broadband Opportunity Program will fund the installation of broadband internet infrastructure, providing access to telehealth, economic, educational, and workforce development opportunities through the grants.
Among the Northeast Florida communities that will benefit:
- CLAY COUNTY: Keystone Heights, Clay Hill, Middleburg, McRae and Virginia Village, $1.88 million — Provide fiber optics services to 1,917 homes, 42 businesses and eight community anchor institutions in those Clay County communities, capable of symmetrical download and upload speeds of 100 MBPS.
- PUTNAM COUNTY, $1.19 million — Add 60 miles of fiber optic cable to the existing network to provide fiber optics services to 1,192 locations in Putnam County with symmetrical download and upload speeds of 1GB.
- PUTNAM COUNTY: Bostwick, Pomona Park, Interlachen, Melrose, Welaka, Putnam Hall, George’s Lake and Unincorporated Crescent City, $4.49 million — Deploy fiber optic cable service to 2,986 unserved and underserved locations within Putnam County with minimum download speeds of 50 MBPS and upload speeds of 10 MBPS.
- ST. JOHNS COUNTY: Riverdale; Flagler Estates and Spuds, $1.83 million— Add 118 miles of fiber optic cable to provide FTTH services to 1,603 unserved and underserved locations in St. Johns County with minimum symmetrical download and upload speeds of 1 GBPS.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the grants, highlighting that broadband internet access enhances educational opportunities, as well as, create many jobs from FFTH installers to Advanced Telecom Engineers and support staff. He also stated that there will be further investments through the program.
Key FTTH Job Responsibilities:
- Install fiber optic cables in homes and businesses in accordance with industry standards and best practices
- Terminate and splice fiber optic cables to provide seamless connections
- Test and troubleshoot fiber optic connections to ensure optimal performance
- Install network equipment such as optical network terminals (ONTs) and modems
- Provide technical support and customer service to ensure customer satisfaction
- Maintain accurate and up-to-date records of installations, upgrades, and repairs
- Adhere to safety guidelines and best practices to ensure a safe working environment
With roles like FTTH installers averaging $70,000 in annual salary there is reason for residents of Northeast Florida to be optimistic. Especially when considering the average household income in Northeast Florida is around $54,000. However, it’s important to note that this number can vary widely depending on the specific location within the region and other demographic factors such as education, employment, and household size.