Governor visits county on Broadband tour

Published 6:00 pm Monday, December 18, 2023

Gov. Kay Ivey made her third stop during her broadband tour at Atmore Community
Hospital on Dec. 13.
Ivey was joined by Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA)
Director Kenneth Boswell, Atmore Community Hospital Administrator Brad Lowery,
state Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) and state Rep. Alan Baker (R-Brewton).
She discussed upcoming broadband projects in Escambia and Baldwin Counties, and
throughout the state. Additionally, she highlighted the importance of broadband in areas
like healthcare, education, business and day-to-day life.
“Broadband availability is not just for our convenience – it is a lifeline, particularly
evident in telehealth services. For thousands of Alabamians in rural areas, telehealth
bridges the gap to medical facilities, and without broadband, this vital resource remains
out of reach for many,” said Governor Ivey. “I am proud to say Alabama remains
committed to expanding our digital infrastructure, aiming to connect households,
businesses and institutions. Our broadband journey continues until every Alabamian has
the ability to access high-speed Internet.”
The speakers addressed the more than $17 million in grant and matching funds
committed for broadband projects which will give more than 3,600 currently unserved
addresses the ability to be connected in Escambia and Baldwin counties. This will result
in over 140 miles of new fiber. Additionally, the overall success of the Alabama
Broadband Accessibility Fund (ABAF) was discussed.
“That’s a significant milestone,” Ivey added.
Lowery said having broadband access is a big deal, especially for rural healthcare.
He spoke about how UAB’s telehealth program has been a big partner in providing the
services.
“They make a difference in people’s healthcare,” he said.
Albritton spoke on how the broadband infrastructure is costly, and with leadership, the
Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund was established.
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.
Albritton said Mediacom has also been a major player.
“When you look at the digital world we live in today, access to broadband infrastructure
is just as important, in many ways, as having access to electricity or running water,” said
Sen. Albritton. “But for many Alabamians, especially those living in tougher to access,
rural areas of our state, getting connected to high-speed Internet is difficult and
expensive. That’s why the programs we have funded through the legislature are so
important, they give Internet service providers the support needed to connect these hard-
to-reach areas so that no Alabamians are left out. I have been proud to support broadband
expansion in my leadership role in the Alabama Senate, and I will continue my work on
this issue until all Alabamians have access to the 21 st century technologies needed for
everyday life.”
Baker spoke about how the broadband expansion initiative is a journey. He recognized
individuals who have helped in the endeavor.

“There are of course huge benefits with broadband expansion,” Baker said, adding that it
helps with telemedicine, education and economics. “This is something to be proud of.”
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. It 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.