Kay Ivey Announces More Money for Broadband Coming to Alabama
Taniesa L. Sullivan | The Weekly Ledger News | Alabama Today
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The federal government is sending Alabama more money to extend broadband access to more people in the state. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced on Thursday that the U.S. Treasury Department has approved the state’s plan for the Capital Projects Fund, making $191.8 million available for broadband expansion.
“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,” said Gov. Ivey. “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.”
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs will administer the funds as part of a grant program to support projects to extend service to previously unserved areas of the state.
“Under Governor 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,” said ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell. “While the need is still great, these funds will enable us to make further progress in closing the digital divide in Alabama.”
The funds are part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Last year the Alabama Legislature approved these dollars for broadband expansion. ADECA was then tasked with creating a plan outlining the use of the funds and submitted it to the U.S. Treasury Department in September 2022. The Treasury announced the approval of that plan on Thursday.
ADECA’s Alabama Digital Expansion Division will roll out the competitive grant program in the coming months. The program will be modeled after the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund, which ADECA has administered since 2018. The grants will be 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 the broadband providers. The broadband is not free, and residents don’t have to actually subscribe to the service.
Grant projects approved must provide connections of at least 100 megabits per second download/100 megabits per second upload.
The governor has made increasing access to broadband a top priority of her administration. She promised in her inaugural address to make Alabama a national model when it comes to broadband expansion. Since 2018, Ivey has awarded $63.9 million in state funds to support 100 projects through the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund. Once all those projects are completed, access to broadband will be available to approximately 61,000 more households, businesses, and community institutions that currently have no option to subscribe.