By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News
The state recently awarded $26.6 million in grants to extend broadband internet access to about 15,000 homes, businesses and entities, including schools, in 10 counties.
The state-funded grants are given to broadband providers to expand their service areas to paying customers.
“Alabama continues to make strides in providing reliable high-speed internet services for families and businesses throughout Alabama,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a recent written release. “I extend my thanks to legislators who realize the importance and the huge impact that access to broadband services mean for Alabama. I also thank the service providers for their willingness to be a part of this mission to change the lives of Alabamians.”
The Broadband Accessibility Fund grants are administered through the Alabama Department of Community and Economic Affairs.
A late 2021 report said that more than 311,000 Alabama addresses, or about 19% of the state, did not have broadband that meets the emerging federal requirements of 100 megabits per second for downloads and 20 megabits per second for uploads.
Early this year, lawmakers and Ivey agreed to spend about $277 million of about $1 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds on broadband expansion. They’ll likely decide how to dedicate a second half of that American Rescue Plan Act money early next year.
“Having access to high-speed internet service can change the world for families in rural areas particularly when it comes to education, health care or running a business” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell in a written statement. “I am honored to have the trust that Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature have placed in ADECA to administer this program that is making a difference for people throughout the state.”
The grants were awarded to:
- Blount/Etowah counties, Comcast Cable Communications: $1.32 million to provide access to 956 addresses in Allgood, Altoona, Walnut Grove, Pana, Ellison Crossroads and Redbud.
- Cherokee County, Comcast Cable Communications: $4.74 million for access to 2,778 addresses in Leesburg, Sand Rock and the community of Anderson.
- Colbert County, Comcast Cable Communications: $1.2 million for access to 1,567 addresses near Leighton and tin Ford City and Hatton and an area near Littleville.
- DeKalb County, Farmers Telecommunications Corp.: – $3.4 million for access to 826 addresses in and near Mentone, Valley Head, Fort Payne, Cloudmont, Cloudland, Union Hill, Moon Lake, Ponderosa, Bankhead, Little River East Fork, Little River West Fork, Oakdale, Sylvania Gap and DeSoto State Park.
- Jackson County, Farmers Telecommunications Corp.: $4.37 million for access to 1,818 addresses in all of or parts of Dutton, Section, Langston, Powell, Macedonia, Davistown, Pleasant View, Hodge and Hancock Crossing.
- Lauderdale County, Spectrum Southeast: $2.31 million for access near the town of Waterloo. The project will make high-speed internet available to 2,267 addresses.
- Mobile County, Comcast Cable Communications: $686,298 for access to 438 addresses in Alabama Port and Mon Louis.
- St. Clair County, Comcast Cable Communications: $3.63 million for access to 2,104 addresses in an area near Ragland.
- Walker County, Spectrum Southeast: $4.95 million for access for 2,097 addresses near Oakman and Nauvoo.