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Ivey: Additional broadband funds coming to Alabama

Alabama’s efforts to extend access to broadband service to unserved areas received a boost Thursday when the U.S. Treasury Department approved the state’s plan for the Capital Projects Fund. The approval makes $191.8 million available for broadband expansion, Gov. Kay Ivey announced.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs will administer the funds for projects to reach unserved areas.

“Access to broadband is a necessity in today’s world, and I continue to make it a priority that our state has the full ability to be connected to high-speed internet,” said Ivey. “I often say that broadband expansion is a journey, not a short trip.

“These funds will enable us to take several more strides in that journey toward full access no matter where you live in Alabama.”

The Legislation approved using the funds for broadband expansion last year. The money was through the American Rescue Plan Act. ADECA submitted a plan outlining use of the funds to the Treasury Department in September.

The governor has made increasing access to broadband a top priority, her statement said. In her inaugural address, Ivey said Alabama will be a national model when it comes to broadband expansion.

“Under Governor Ivey’s leadership and with a strong team effort among the Legislature, internet service providers and many others, the state has made progress in expanding access to high-speed internet,” said ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell. “While the need is still great, these funds will enable us to make further progress in closing the digital divide in Alabama.”

ADECA’s Alabama Digital Expansion Division will roll out the competitive grant program in the coming months. The program will be modeled after the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund, which ADECA has administered since 2018.

Grants will be available for service providers to make “last-mile” connections to unserved homes, businesses and community institutions. Once connected, residents can become a customer of the broadband providers.

ADECA will be announcing application details, deadlines and a workshop for the grant program.

Since 2018, Ivey has awarded $63.9 million in state funds to support 100 projects through the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund.

Once all those projects are completed, access to broadband will be available to approximately 61,000 more households, businesses and community institutions that currently have no option to subscribe.

The agency has also developed a statewide broadband map and the Alabama Connectivity Plan, which guide the state’s expansion efforts into unserved areas. In September, Ivey announced a grant to support broadband “middle-mile” network infrastructure to improve access for last-mile projects.

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