Third stop on statewide broadband tour
Special to Atmore News
Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday, December 13, completed the third stop on her broadband tour at Atmore Community Hospital. She discussed the importance of high-speed internet in allowing Alabamians to access telehealth services, while highlighting the progress being made in broadband projects in both Escambia and Baldwin counties, as well as across the state.
“Broadband availability is not just for our convenience – it is a lifeline, particularly evident in telehealth services,” Gov. Ivey said. “For thousands of Alabamians in rural areas, telehealth bridges the gap to medical facilities, and without broadband, this vital resource remains out of reach for many. I am proud to say Alabama remains committed to expanding our digital infrastructure, aiming to connect households, businesses and institutions. Our broadband journey continues until every Alabamian has the ability to access high-speed internet.”
Governor Ivey was joined by Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) Director Kenneth Boswell, Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) and Rep. Alan Baker (R-Brewton).
The speakers addressed the more than $17 million in grant and matching funds committed for broadband projects which will give more than 3,600 currently unserved addresses the ability to be connected in Escambia and Baldwin counties. This will result in over 140 miles of new fiber. Additionally, the overall success of the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund (ABAF) was discussed.
ABAF, which is funded by the Alabama Legislature, supports targeted projects in communities in need of high-speed internet access. These funds, awarded by Governor Ivey and managed by ADECA, give internet service providers the ability to execute projects that connect individual households, businesses, community anchor institutions such as libraries and schools, and others to broadband infrastructure.
“When you look at the digital world we live in today, access to broadband infrastructure is just as important, in many ways, as having access to electricity or running water,” Sen. Albritton said. “But for many Alabamians, especially those living in tougher to access, rural areas of our state, getting connected to high-speed internet is difficult and expensive. That’s why the programs we have funded through the legislature are so important, they give internet service providers the support needed to connect these hard-to-reach areas so that no Alabamians are left out. I have been proud to support broadband expansion in my leadership role in the Alabama Senate, and I will continue my work on this issue until all Alabamians have access to the 21st century technologies needed for everyday life.”
Since 2018, Alabama has invested approximately $82 million in state dollars through grant awards supporting more than 100 projects through the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund. Once all Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund projects awarded to date have been completed, access to broadband service will be available to more than 72,000 Alabama households, businesses and community institutions that currently have no option to subscribe.
“Our continued progress in expanding high-speed internet access would not be possible without a unified team working hard every day to accomplish our state’s broadband goals,” said Director Boswell. “This team includes Governor Ivey, the Alabama Legislature, internet service providers, and others too many to name working together to make sure Alabama residents and Alabama communities have the tools needed to thrive.”
Alabamians interested in learning more about what the state is doing to expand high-speed internet access are encouraged to visit the Be Linked Alabama website, a hub of internet expansion information and news. It includes the Alabama Broadband Map, county profiles and dashboards and statewide broadband news.