Expanded broadband access is the Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition’s mission
It’s a lot easier to stay home when you have internet; that’s how you survive. Without internet access, you can’t do your homework, can’t work and you can’t order from the grocery store online.
Access to fast and reliable internet is something all Alabamians should enjoy, said state Sen. Clay Scofield of Marshall County.
“As this pandemic has made clear, high-speed broadband access in all corners of Alabama is truly a basic personal necessity in today’s society and could bring in an array of benefits related to education, telemedicine, economic development and even agriculture,” Scofield said.
The Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition (ARBC), formed in 2018, continues to work to expand internet service by offering proactive policy solutions to bring more voices to the conversation and resources to the table. ARBC added more than 30 new members in 2020, now involving more than 50 organizations from different industries working together.
In the past three years, public and private partners have made important advances in the coalition efforts.
ARBC was instrumental in securing the passage of legislation to establish the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund to provide grants to expand access to high-speed internet. The fund has distributed nearly $20 million, connecting 25,000 Alabama households and community anchors.
Additionally, ARBC worked with legislators and stakeholders on the Alabama Broadband Over Easements Act, which allows carriers to use electric providers’ existing infrastructure for high-speed internet.
Six electric cooperatives are using or plan to use these policy solutions for broadband in 26 counties. Alabama Power is partnering with C Spire and Point Broadband to support their broadband offerings for customers in Jasper, Trussville and Lake Martin.
“From use in our homes or for e-learning or for video conferencing or remote works, to providing critical healthcare services like telemedicine to our rural hospitals and rural clinics, it has never been more apparent that internet for all is critical now and in the future,” said Dr. Lee Carter, general practitioner, Autaugaville.
The ARBC is a member-led group of organizations from across the state focused on rural broadband expansion, ranging from agriculture and business to economic development, education and health care. ARBC was formed with the assistance of the Energy Institute of Alabama. Learn more at alruralbroadband.com.
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)