Governor Kay Ivey on Monday announced that she has awarded six grants totaling over $1.14 million to provide access to high-speed internet in several of the state’s rural communities.
The grants are the second round of awards presented by Ivey under the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund. In the latest round, some providers were awarded more than one grant to provide service in different areas.
“Alabama’s rural residents not only want, but need to be on a super highway when it comes to technology,” Ivey said in a statement.
“Access to high-speed internet in our rural areas will open the way to improved educational opportunities, economic development projects and better health-care services,” the governor concluded. “I am very proud to award these grants to expand access to affordable high-speed internet in these communities.”
Grants awarded and coverage areas as follows:
• Roanoke Telephone Co. Inc. – $79,239 for coverage in the Five Points community in Chambers County. The project will involve more than three square miles and will include 176 households.
• R.M. Greene Inc. of Phenix City – $4,320 for coverage in the Pittsview community and in Russell County. Twenty-three households are included in the coverage area.
• R.M. Greene Inc. of Phenix City – $50,712 to provide coverage in the Dixie area in Russell County. The area includes 215 residences, two businesses and a school.
• Troy Cablevision Inc. – $575,115 for connectivity in multiple areas in Houston County (near Cottonwood and Gordon; and between Webb and Columbia) and Geneva County (near Slocomb, Coffee Springs, Geneva and Samson). The project will cover 79 miles and provide connectivity for 878 residences, 76 businesses and three community locations (like schools, libraries, fire stations and community centers).
• Troy Cablevision Inc. – $348,885 for service in Crenshaw County (near Rutledge/Luverne), Pike County (near Brundidge, Banks and Goshen) and northeast Coffee County. The project will cover 52 miles and provide connectivity for 405 households, 33 businesses and two community and public safety locations.
• Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative Inc. of Rainsville – $88,668 to provide service in the Fabius and Maxwell communities near Stevenson in Jackson County, serving 47 households and one business.
The fund was created through legislation sponsored by State Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) and signed into law by Ivey during the Alabama Legislature’s 2018 regular session. The first round of grants was awarded earlier this year. The legislature then passed a bill updating the law during the 2019 regular session.
The Broadband Accessibility Fund provides grants for service providers to supply high-speed internet services in unincorporated areas or communities with 25,000 people or less. Under the law, grant awards cannot exceed 20 percent of the total cost of a project.
A separate major piece of broadband legislation was successfully championed by State Rep. Randall Shedd (R-Fairview) this year. He is also supportive of the Broadband Accessibility Fund.
“Governor Ivey has led the way to improve rural Alabama on many issues, none more important than connectivity to technology. Alabama is committed to improving our rural areas,” Shedd commented.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) is responsible for administering the Broadband Accessibility Fund.
“Like public water and sewer services, high-speed internet is an important piece of infrastructure that people, especially in urban areas, can take for granted,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell emphasized. “Providing these services in rural communities improves lives, and ADECA is proud to be a part of this important process.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn