Grants awarded to broaden internet access

Published 11:55 am Wednesday, February 7, 2024

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Governor Kay Ivey has announced the awarding of more than $188 million to continue the expansion of high-speed internet access in Alabama.

The grants, totaling $188,453,905, were awarded to 12 internet service providers to install more than 4,000 miles of “middle-mile” projects throughout Alabama. Middle-mile projects help fill the gap in broadband expansion to make it more economically feasible and less labor intensive for providers to extend services to unserved businesses and households in the state.

Governor Ivey made the announcement of grants from the Alabama Anchor Institution/Middle Mile Grant Program in her hometown of Camden this week. Wilcox County and other rural counties are among the areas in Alabama where the middle-mile projects will be completed.

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“Rural Alabama, like so many other places in the state, is in need of increased access to high-speed internet, and today we are taking a significant stride in our journey toward full broadband access,” said Governor Ivey. “These middle-mile projects will be extremely beneficial to our anchor institutions, and it puts us in a desirable situation where the ‘last mile’ projects that will supply broadband service to businesses and households are more economical and attainable.”

Anchor institutions include schools, hospitals and medical facilities and government and public safety buildings. Many are located on or near the middle-mile routes and more than 790 will be served by the projects.

“In the 21st century, access to affordable, high-speed internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity, and one that many Alabamians have gone without for far too long,” said Rep. Sewell. “I was thrilled to help make this funding available through the American Rescue Plan and I applaud Governor Ivey and Director Boswell for making these investments. I will continue working to ensure that this funding reaches those who need it most.”

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs will administer the program through its Alabama Digital Expansion Division. The division was established by the Alabama Legislature and Governor Ivey to focus on high-speed internet expansion in the state.

“ADECA is pleased to be involved in this broadband-expansion effort that will benefit so many people and improve lives,” said ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell. “I am grateful to Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature for having the confidence to entrust ADECA with this all-important program.”

Funding for the latest middle-mile program came from an allocation made by the Legislature from the state’s share of American Rescue Plan Act Funds.

JMF Solutions  was awarded $6.3 million for four projects to provide middle-mile connections over a 1,169-mile route in Bibb, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay Conecuh, Dallas, Escambia, Greene, Lowndes, Macon, Monroe, Randolph and Washington counties. The projects will affect 24 anchor institutions.