Governor Kay Ivey on Friday made the fifth stop on her statewide broadband tour at DeKalb Regional Medical Center, where she discussed the progress being made in broadband projects in DeKalb and Jackson counties.
“Broadband accessibility plays a significant role in our day-to-day lives; one being bridging the gap between patients and healthcare providers so timely care can be delivered through telehealth services. With the diligent work of partners like Farmers Telecommunications and initiatives like the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund, we’re stitching together the digital divide across the entire state,” said Governor Ivey. “Our investment not only enhances healthcare delivery but strengthens every daily necessity, industry and community by providing a more connected Alabama.”
At Friday’s event, Governor Ivey was joined by Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) Director Kenneth Boswell, Alabama House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, Alabama Senate Majority Leader Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and Huntsville Hospital Health System CEO Jeff Samz.
The speakers addressed the $16.7 million in grant and matching funds committed for six completed broadband projects and two projects that are currently in progress. Once all eight projects are completed, more than 4,330 currently unserved addresses will have the ability to be connected in DeKalb and Jackson counties. Additionally, the overall success of the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund (ABAF) was discussed.
ABAF, which is funded by the Alabama Legislature, supports targeted projects in communities in need of high-speed internet access. These funds, awarded by Governor Ivey and managed by ADECA, give internet service providers the ability to execute projects that connect individual households, businesses, community anchor institutions such as libraries and schools, and others to broadband infrastructure.
Since 2018, Alabama has invested approximately $82 million in state dollars through grant awards supporting more than 100 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 72,000 Alabama households, businesses and community institutions that currently have no option to subscribe.
“I am proud of the work that has been done to expand high-speed internet access across every single corner of our state, particularly the work being done in DeKalb and Jackson counties that we are here celebrating today,” said House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter. “Through making targeted investments where they will have the greatest impact, we are consistently closing the digital divide for thousands of Alabamians. Connectivity is key for those who call our state home to be able to thrive, and we will continue to support high-speed internet expansion until all Alabamians have the access they need and deserve.”
“The progress we have made in expanding broadband and increasing access to high-speed internet for the citizens in Dekalb and Jackson counties is revolutionary,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Livingston. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of Governor Ivey, the Alabama Legislature, and ADECA, communities like ours all across the state are seeing real progress on this issue and I look forward to continuing our work on this critical need. These investments will not only have an immediate impact but will also benefit future generations.”
“Our continued progress in expanding high-speed internet access would not be possible without a unified team working hard every day to accomplish our state’s broadband goals,” said Director Boswell.“This team includes Governor Ivey, the Alabama Legislature, internet service providers, and others too numerous to name working together to make sure Alabama residents and communities have the tools needed to thrive.”
Alabamians interested in learning more about what the state is doing to expand high-speed internet access are encouraged to visit the Be Linked Alabama website, a hub of internet expansion information and news. Available at broadband.alabama.gov, the site includes the Alabama Broadband Map, county profiles and dashboards and statewide broadband news.
Be Linked Alabama represents the state’s united effort to expand access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet. As Alabama works toward achieving the goal of high-speed internet access for all, the statewide initiative is coordinated by ADECA and brings together partners from across the state, including Governor Ivey, the Alabama Legislature, internet service providers, research institutions, utility companies, community leaders and the public.