ADECA asks Alabamians to be patient during broadband expansion process
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Large amounts of money have been awarded to the state of Alabama to expand broadband internet access. But today, many people – especially in rural areas – lack access online.
When Gov. Kay Ivey took office, expanding broadband became a priority and a responsibility for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell says since 2017 they’ve spent $88 million.
“It took two years to give access to 82,000 people throughout the state. So, I would let the people know to be patient,” he said.
$82 million from the pandemic-era American Rescue Plan Act is currently being used to build the Middle Mile. This is a project that connects existing and new fiber infrastructure.
“There’s a lot of components that you have to look at when you’re deploying broadband. One would be the availability of the wiring, workforce, and things of that nature,” said Boswell. “We’re just now over COVID. So you know, the background of being able to get that merchandise and getting that workforce ready to implement this takes some time.”
Last month, $1.4 billion was allocated to the state as part of President Joe Biden’s Investing in America Agenda.
“We’re currently working on the application phase for that, we hope to be having a workshop by mid-August for the Internet service providers that want to be part of the competitive grant process,” said Boswell.
Service providers apply for the grants offered by ADECA and municipalities can follow the state’s lead in incentivizing providers to bring connectivity to their residents.
“It was better to let those people that are professionals that understand the industry, help them deploy it, use some of their capital funds, use some of the dollars coming into the state and we feel like that’s a good way to get it there,” said Boswell.
Alabamians can follow along with the expansion progress using the Broadband Map found on ADECA’s website. The map is updated every 6 months.
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