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Ivey awards almost $17 million in broadband expansion grants

Governor Kay Ivey has awarded nearly $17 million to help expand broadband services in primarily rural, unserved areas of Alabama.

Announced Monday, the 36 grants awarded by Ivey to multiple providers across the state represent the largest monetary amount and number of grants awarded to date from the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund.

The fund was created by the Alabama Legislature in 2018 and is funded from the state’s annual Education Trust Fund budget.

“The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced what we already knew; that Alabama’s broadband coverage is an issue we must continue addressing,” Ivey stated. “Yet, thanks to so many, we are making strides in helping to provide high-speed internet coverage throughout the state. That will make a vast difference for thousands in terms of education, economic development, health care services and everyday life.”

View the full list of grants here.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers Broadband Accessibility Fund grants in the state.

“Access to broadband can make all the difference in the world to a family or rural business whether it is a child being able to participate in a course not offered at their school or a farmer having to go online to order a piece of equipment vital to his operation,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “ADECA is pleased to join Governor Ivey in this program that is making real differences in the lives of Alabamians.”

Alabama is 47th in the nation in broadband connectivity, even lagging well behind Mississippi, as well as other neighboring states. It has been projected that it will take between $4 billion and $6 billion to expand high-speed broadband access to all Alabamians.

While a larger, steady revenue stream is still needed to more expediently work towards that ultimate goal, the Alabama Legislature last week passed the Connect Alabama Act, which will develop a comprehensive strategy and process to expand broadband across the state. That bill is pending Ivey’s signature.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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