The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) on Friday announced that Governor Kay Ivey has awarded over $137,000 to provide high-speed internet to more than 200 citizens across two Alabama communities.
The grants were awarded through the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund, which was created by historic legislation spearheaded by State Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) in 2018 and improved with his SB 90 during the Alabama legislature’s 2019 regular session. The fund is intended to provide high-speed internet to rural and underserved areas of the state.
This latest round of disbursements from the fund saw $113,680 awarded to provide broadband services near the town of Arley in Winston County and a grant of $23,555 for the installation of broadband cable in southeast Montgomery County.
“Access to high-speed internet in rural and underserved Alabama is opening up new worlds for the people in those areas in terms of education, healthcare and economic opportunities,” Ivey said in a statement. “I am pleased to award these grants, and I look forward to the day when every part of Alabama has access to these services.”
According to a release from ADECA, the Winston County project will involve adding 4.5 miles of wiring to provide access to approximately 200 residents along Sipsey Pines Road and parts of adjoining roads. Cyber Broadband Inc. of Cullman is leading the project, which is expected to cost a total of $568,400.
Regarding the Montgomery County project, Troy Cablevision will reportedly lay nearly 2.5 miles of high-speed fiber to serve 37 residents in the vicinity of the town of Pike Road. That project is expected to cost $117,773.
Since the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund was created last year, Ivey has awarded more than $2.2 million in grants to supply high-speed internet across the Yellowhammer State. ADECA is responsible for the administrative duties of the fund.
“ADECA is honored is to be entrusted as the administrators of this important and life-changing grant program,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell stated. “The agency will continue to work with the governor and Legislature to continue expanding the access of affordable high-speed internet.”
Broadband service providers and industry experts in Alabama have previously advised that expanding high-speed, affordable broadband services to everyone in the state who wants it will take time, however that is the ultimate goal that the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund, along with 2019’s HB 400, is working towards.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn