Internet project ‘game-changer’

Published 2:12 am Saturday, April 16, 2011

A “game-changing” Internet connection project could create about 1,200 jobs in South Alabama, community development director Steve Yuhasz told Brewton City Council members last week.

The council approved a resolution supporting the project, which has been funded by the federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act to build high-speed Internet connections throughout the region.

Trillion will build 2,200 miles of fiber optic lines throughout the region to connect households to high-speed internet, which would be low-cost or free for those who qualify.

“Twelve hundred jobs will be created,” Yuhasz said. “This will affect 72,000 houses. This is projected to be the kind of infrastructure that will accommodate changes in technology for up to 50 years. This is a major project.”

The committee working with Trillion on the project will include a representative from each county in the region — which includes Escambia, Butler, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Lowndes, Macon and Wilcox.

Brewton is in the fourth planned development phase and could see work done by early 2012. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by 2013.

Trillion is in the process of seeking bids from Internet providers, but households that already have an Internet provider could keep that company if they choose.

The idea behind the project is to get all rural households connected to high-speed Internet — which would boost their access to other services as well.

“The beauty of it is that it will provide service to have Internet, telephone and television,” Yuhasz said. “Doctors could do electronic house calls. There are many potential uses that have been talked about for 20 years that would be a reality.”

Infrastructure for the fiber optic lines would go to each household.

“The intention is to provide low-cost or no-cost service to those who need it,” Yuhasz said.

He encouraged city council members to support the project.

“It’s coming whether we want it or not,” he said. “It’s a massive plan. It’s game-changing.”