Alabama receives funding for broadband expansion

Published 10:08 am Friday, January 27, 2023

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It was announced on Friday, Jan. 27, that the State of Alabama has received $191.8 million in funding from the U.S. Treasury Dept. for broadband expansion.

The funding will be administered by the Alabama Dept. of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) as part of a grant program to support projects to expand service to previously unserved areas of the state, mainly very rural areas. The funds are a part of the American Rescue Act, and the Alabama Broadband Capital Projects Fund. The plan to use the funding for broadband expansion was submitted to the Treasury in September with approval announced on Jan. 27.

“Access to broadband is a necessity in today’s world and I continue to make it a priority that our state has the full ability to be connected to high-speed Internet,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said. “I often say that broadband expansion is a journey, not a short trip. These funds will enable us to take several more strides in that journey toward full access no matter where you live in Alabama.”

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ADECA’s Alabama Digital Expansion Division will be rolling out the grant program in the coming months, according to the release, and will be modeled after the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund, which has been a program since 2018. Grants will be made available for Internet service providers to make “last-mile” connections to previously unserved homes, businesses and community institutions. Once connected, residents will have the ability to become a customer of those broadband providers.

“Under Gov. Ivey’s leadership, and with a strong team effort among the Legislature, Internet service providers and many others, the state has made progress in expanding access to high-speed Internet,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “While the need is still great, these funds will enable us to make further progress in closing the digital divide in Alabama.”

ADECA plans to announce application details, deadlines and a workshop for the grant program in the coming months, as well. If awarded, providers will have approximately two years to complete the major infrastructure projects, which must provide connections of at least 100 megabits per second download and 100 megabits per second upload.

Since 2018, $63.9 million in state funds have been awarded to support 100 projects through the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund. According to ADECA, once those 100 projects are completed more than 60,000 households, businesses and community institutions will have broadband options that did not previously have them.

The new funding from the American Rescue Plan will expand coverage to an additional 55,000 locations across the state, according to the U.S. Treasury. Additionally, all service providers funded by the program will also participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides a $30 subsidy for low-income families.

According to the Alabama Broadband Map, much of Pike County – primarily in Troy – has 80-100 percent availability for high-speed Internet but there are still a number of locations with little coverage availability and even no coverage availability.