Governor Kay Ivey, on Monday, kicked off the first of a series of statewide meetings through a program organized by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). This initiative, the Alabama Community Broadband Technical Assistance Program (TAP), will be offered in each of Alabama’s 67 counties, all of which are open to the public.
The Alabama Community Broadband Technical Assistance Program, administered by ADECA’s Alabama Digital Expansion Division, provides technical assistance to units of local government and other public stakeholders in Alabama seeking to deploy or expand broadband infrastructure and services to help communities prepare for broadband deployment and digital opportunities. Funding for this program comes through grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
This program enables participating counties and jurisdictions within those counties access to the tools that understand broadband gaps and opportunities, which will allow communities to be positioned for increased broadband efforts to address these challenges.
Over the next few years, Alabama will make unprecedented funds available for this specific purpose and engagement from elected officials, internet service providers, government and community anchors, community-based organizations and the general public will be critical to shaping the state’s plans for counties to be positioned to take maximum advantage of these opportunities.
“In today’s modern world, being connected is a necessity, and there’s far too many Alabamians who are unable to access high-speed internet. Increasing access to connectivity across the state has been and will continue to be a top priority for my Administration as we move into the next four years,” said Governor Ivey. “This is the first meeting of many that will be offered in all 67 counties across the state, and I encourage our local leaders and communities to participate. These ADECA-led programs host the critical steps we must take to get our state across the broadband finish line.”
ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell attributed the state’s steadfast path forward to achieving full broadband to Governor Ivey’s intentional leadership, along with the help of federal funds.
“Under Governor Ivey’s leadership, Alabama has made strides in mapping and planning at the state level to increase broadband service in unserved areas of our state,” said ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell. “With the help of this funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce, ADECA will extend assistance with broadband mapping and planning to the county level. This will help counties and communities develop plans and data to help take advantage of the many future opportunities for grant funding to help internet service providers expand broadband access to unserved areas.”
An NTIA representative was also on hand at the kick-off meeting to announce grant awards of $5 million from the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment Program and $981,081 from the Digital Equity Act to support the program and other planning activities to increase access to broadband service.
This county-level broadband technical assistance will involve three phases:
1) Stakeholder engagement and asset identification for broadband readiness
2) Data Collection and collaboration to baseline broadband needs and assess current state
3) Strategy development for broadband deployment and digital opportunity partnerships
The program will kick off with full day engagements in the following counties over the week of December 12, 2022:
• Montgomery County – December 12
• Lowndes County – December 13
• Greene County – December 14
• Sumter County – December 15
• Marengo County – December 16
These meetings are open to the public and all interested in participating are encouraged to attend.