MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) announced Friday the creation of an Office of Broadband Development.
“The Office of Broadband Development allows Alabama to more effectively meet the demands of our businesses and citizens in an ever growing digital age,” said Governor Bentley. “Broadband development is critical in Alabama’s continued economic growth, and I am confident that this newly created office will help us in reaching statewide goals in the areas of public safety, healthcare, education, e-Government, agriculture, tourism, economic development and more.”
The governor’s office explained that while most Alabama counties have broadband internet service many areas still lack “adequate and affordable” high speed access.
According to Governor Bentley’s executive order, the Office of Broadband Development will assess broadband coverage and gaps in service across the state, research grants on behalf of state agencies and local governments for the development of broadband in Alabama, and “collect and share information with stakeholders, such as challenges, opportunities, resources, webinars, maps and public policies that enhance or hamper Broadband deployment and usage.”
The Office will be run by a director, and governed by a 19-member advisory board. Governor Bentley appointed Kathy Johnson to the directorship.
“Broadband, commonly referred to as high-speed Internet, was considered a luxury a few short years ago. This technology, however, is now critical to everything from economic development to Public Safety,” said Johnson. “I am excited to be working on this vital program that will help support Governor Bentley’s efforts to attract and retain well-paying jobs, provide access to healthcare and education in all Alabama communities, make our communities safer and more productive, and enhance the quality of life for all Alabamians.”
Bentley spokesperson Jennifer Ardis told Yellowhammer Johnson’s salary would come from the Governor’s Office, which is funded through the state’s ailing General Fund budget.
Johnson previously served as Director of the Governor’s Alabama Broadband Initiative under former Governor Bob Riley, and Broadband Communications & Program Coordinator for broadband promotion group LinkAMERICA Alliance.
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— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015