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Escambia included in $188M broadband expansion grants

Gov. Ivey speaks about broadband during her Atmore visit

Special to Atmore News

Gov. Kay Ivey recently announced that more than $188 million in grants have been awarded to continue the expansion of high-speed internet access in Alabama, especially in the state’s rural areas. The total includes funds to expand broadband accessibility in Escambia and surrounding counties.
The grants total $188,453,905 and are part of the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2023.
The federal funds were awarded to 12 internet service providers that will install more than 4,000 miles of “middle-mile” projects throughout the state. Middle-mile projects help fill the gap in broadband expansion and make it more economically feasible and less labor intensive for providers to extend services into the state’s unserved businesses and households.
The governor, who has toured the state — including a stop in Atmore — in support of broadband expansion, made the announcement from her hometown of Camden, in Wilcox County, one of the areas where the middle-mile projects will be completed.
“Rural Alabama, like so many other places in the state, is in need of increased access to high-speed internet, and today we are taking a significant stride in our journey toward full broadband access,” the governor said. “These middle-mile projects will be extremely beneficial to our anchor institutions, and it puts us in a desirable situation where the ‘last mile’ projects that will supply broadband service to businesses and households are more economical and attainable.”
Anchor institutions include schools, hospitals and medical facilities and government and public safety buildings. More than 790 will be served by the projects, including 24 in the stretch that includes Escambia County.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs will administer the program through its Alabama Digital Expansion Division, established by the Alabama Legislature and Gov. Ivey to focus on high-speed internet expansion in the state.
“ADECA is pleased to be involved in this broadband-expansion effort that will benefit so many people and improve lives,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “I am grateful to Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature for having the confidence to entrust ADECA with this all-important program.”
Alabama 7th District Congressional representative Terri Sewell, who helped make the funding available, stressed the importance of broadband service in today’s business and residential worlds.
“In the 21st century, access to affordable, high-speed internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity, and one that many Alabamians have gone without for far too long,” Sewell said. “I was thrilled to help make this funding available through the American Rescue Plan and I applaud Governor Ivey and Director Boswell for making these investments. I will continue working to ensure that this funding reaches those who need it most.”
The latest round of grants comes on the heels of a $25 million package announced last year.
That package included $4.05 million to Mediacom for providing broadband service connectivity for 1,756 households, businesses and community anchors in northwest Baldwin County and southwest Escambia County, between Bay Minette and Atmore.
Most of the money will be or has already been spent on establishing access to broadband service for roughly 20,000 customers in Perdido, Lottie, Little River and other tiny communities that straddle the Baldwin-Escambia county lines.