Infrastructure critical to daily life
Published 4:06 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2023
By Kenneth Boswell
Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) Director
You can’t get to work without roads, light your home without electricity, or access running water without a clean, steady water supply.
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But, there is one key form of infrastructure that many folks don’t have access to: statewide access to broadband infrastructure.
Broadband is like a “road system” giving households and businesses access to high-speed internet service.
High-speed internet access affects virtually every aspect of daily life and should not be determined by zip code but should be available to all Alabamians.
That’s why the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) is working every day making this a possibility.
And, we are making great progress.
Governor Kay Ivey and the legislature have taken this issue to heart and made it clear that this is a top priority for the state. They have backed this up with ambitious action, positioning Alabama as a national leader in supporting expansion of broadband infrastructure.
Through the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund we have invested $63.9 million in state funding through grant awards supporting 100 statewide projects. Over 22,000 previously unserved addresses now have access to high-speed internet service, and nearly 37,500 more are expected to gain access in the next two years.
Once completed, that’s about 60,000 Alabama households, businesses and community institutions that will have access that previously did not.
This is a big accomplishment and an Alabama success story that should serve as an example to other states.
In 2021, through the Governor’s signing of the Connect Alabama Act, broadband expansion efforts were streamlined with the creation of the ADECA’s Digital Expansion Division to develop and execute a statewide connectivity plan and to continue administering the broadband accessibility grant program.
Last September, Ivey announced an $82 million grant for a Statewide Middle Mile Network which is much like an interstate system for broadband infrastructure to access points across the state.
ADECA has developed the Alabama Broadband Map, which incorporates real data from 91% of the state’s residential internet service providers to offer an interactive, easy-to-use guide that provides insights into where broadband is and where it isn’t in Alabama.
We also have boots on the ground at the local level through programs such as Alabama Community Broadband Technical Assistance Program (TAP) meetings to provide assistance and receive feedback from stakeholders in all 67 counties.
Reaching the goal will take time, commitment, resources, and focus. As Governor Ivey often says, broadband expansion is a journey and not a short trip.
I’m proud of the work our state has done so far on this issue and its resulting accomplishments. I appreciate all of those who have put their time and energy into making broadband expansion a reality. And I look forward to continuing to build out this essential infrastructure across the great state of Alabama.