RAINSVILLE — Governor Kay Ivey believes the key to Alabama's future lies in statewide access to the internet, which is why she's continuing to push broadband expansion as a top priority of her administration. On Wednesday, she visited the Farmers Telecommunications Headquarters in Rainsville to participate in a ceremonial groundbreaking for broadband projects in DeKalb and Jackson counties.
“To thrive in a 21st-century world and a 21st-century economy, broadband must be made readily available so additional job opportunities can be created, education can be expanded past the walls of our classrooms and healthcare services can be improved,” Ivey said at the ceremony. “The projects underway will bring world-class broadband service to the majority of the currently unserved portions in Dekalb and Jackson counties, serving as prime evidence that the state’s plan for expanding digital infrastructure is working efficiently.
“Providing access to high-speed internet connectivity for Alabamians across every corner of our state has been a top priority during my time as governor, and it will continue to be as we move into these next four years.”
The two counties will split $7.7 million to provide paid broadband access to 2,644 unserved households, which breaks down to $3.4 million for 826 households in DeKalb County and $4.37 million for 1,818 households in Jackson County.
“If you want proof that what the state is doing on broadband is working – look no further than the projects currently underway here in these communities,” said Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative CEO Fred Johnson. “Almost all unserved and underserved portions of these counties will have broadband access as a result of these projects, and I thank Governor Ivey and her administration for giving us the support we needed to make this possible.”
Alabama has committed over $300 million in state and federal funding — a significant portion from the American Rescue Plan Act — for broadband expansion with the goal of 100% statewide coverage over the next five years, per the FCC's mandate.
"The mission to expand broadband access isn't a sprint, it's a marathon, and we look forward to continuing to run that race," said ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell.
According to the Governor's Office, since 2018, Alabama has awarded $63.9 million in state grants for 100 broadband projects through the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund, giving 22,433 previously unserved households access to high-speed internet with an additional 39,196 expected in the next two years.
Part of the process for choosing where to invest in broadband projects involves the Alabama Broadband Map, which Ivey said: "guides the state's efforts and recommends strategies to expand broadband."
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