In an important first step for the program created by the Alabama legislature during its 2018 regular session, Governor Kay Ivey Tuesday awarded grants under the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund to seven rural communities across the state to connect them with high-speed internet access.
The grants, which total almost $1.1 million, are the first to be awarded from the fund created by the legislature and signed into law by Ivey in March.
In a tweet, the governor emphasized that this “major” initial step was a boon for the entire state, advising, “A gain for rural Alabama is a gain for our entire state.”
“These grants may only represent one step in terms of providing high-speed internet opportunities to rural Alabama, but it is a monumental leap for a program that has the ability to positively impact the lives of so many people,” Ivey said in a press release.
“By supplying these services to rural Alabama, we are also providing these areas the ability to step up in education, health care and economic development,” she explained.
The Broadband Accessibility Fund provides funds for service providers to supply high-speed internet services in unincorporated areas or communities with 25,000 people or less. Under the law, awards cannot exceed 20 percent of the total cost of a project.
Ivey has placed the administrative duties of the fund under the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).
“Providing broadband services to Alabama’s rural communities is in many ways the equivalent of providing those same areas with electricity in early 20th Century,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell outlined. “ADECA and Gov. Ivey share the goal of supplying this essential service to every part of Alabama.”
Grants awarded and coverage areas follow:
- Millry Telephone Co. Inc. of Millry – $938,306 for coverage in incorporated areas of Gilbertown and Toxey and some unincorporated areas in Choctaw County.
- Marcus Cable Associates of Birmingham – $11,022 for coverage in the East Wood Point area in Moulton.
- Marcus Cables Associates of Birmingham – $11,063 for coverage in the Emerald Ridge area in Chelsea.
- Charter Communications – $29,567 for coverage in Glen Ridge in southwest Tuscaloosa County.
- Charter Communications – $6,017 for coverage in Grace Haven subdivision in Boaz.
- Charter Communications – $8,415 for coverage in the Vickey Lane area in Boaz.
- Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative Inc. – $74,586 for coverage in the Pea Ridge community near Henagar.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn