Alabama set to receive $1.4 billion to expand access to broadband
Published 2:10 pm Sunday, July 2, 2023
Special to the Advance
Governor Kay Ivey announced recently that Alabama will receive $1.4 billion from the U.S. Department of Commerce to boost ongoing efforts to expand broadband access to unserved areas.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration today released the state allocations from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, which oversees state broadband initiatives, will be the administering agency for the grant funds.
“My priority is for Alabama to gain full ability to be connected to high-speed internet,” said Governor Ivey. “We have taken several significant strides toward this goal, and today’s announcement provides a tremendous boost in the journey toward full broadband access no matter where you live in Alabama.”
States receiving the funds have 180 days to prepare and submit plans to the NTIA for use of the funds. ADECA’s Alabama Digital Expansion Division will complete Alabama’s required proposal. The division is also managing funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund for grant programs to help internet service providers extend service to previously unserved or underserved areas.
“Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Ivey and a strong team effort among the Legislature, internet service providers and many others, Alabama is continuing to make great progress in broadband mapping, planning and deployment,” said ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell. “These efforts have put us in good position with the BEAD program to accelerate our work to close the digital divide in Alabama.”
Since 2018, Alabama has invested $88.6 million of state dollars through grant awards supporting 109 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 82,000 Alabama households, businesses and community institutions that currently have no option to subscribe.
The agency has also developed a statewide broadband map and the Alabama Connectivity Plan, which guide the state’s expansion efforts into unserved areas. In September 2022, Governor Ivey announced a grant to support broadband “middle-mile” network infrastructure to improve access for last-mile projects. In May, ADECA completed community broadband meetings in each of Alabama’s 67 counties.