DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Governor Kay Ivey continues to make strides in one of the top priorities of her administration expanding broadband internet access across the state of Alabama.
While in Dothan, she committed another round of funding toward the initiative — over $400 million.
“We are meeting our broadband challenges head-on,” Gov. Ivey said.
Gov. Ivey is committing $182 million from the capital projects fund to be used for the ‘last mile’ projects in all 67 counties of Alabama.
“We had to get serious about building up our broadband infrastructure its how we communicate and how our children learn,” She said.
“It is just that much of a priority for us to get that customer served and have the same access as those in urban areas,” Sen. Donnie Chesteen said.
This comes in addition to the state already investing over $80 million through grants from the broadband accessibility fund in the last five years to support broadband projects.
“These current projects alone mean more than 82,000 households and businesses finally have the ability to connect to high-speed internet,” Ivey said.
In Houston County, a map on the be-linked website which is now active shows 4 percent of the county is underserved meaning access speeds of 25/3 megabits per second but not 100/20 and 7 percent unserved.
Ivey also announced the middle mile program will be funded with the second round of ARPA funds — over $200 million.
“It will fund connectivity like colleges, rural hospitals, and facilities that are currently underserved,” She added.
To go along with the mission to expand broadband, community colleges around the state like Wallace have a fiber optic training course through the Community College Innovation Center thanks to funding from the state.
The course is free to participants and businesses to teach how high-speed internet is installed.
A plus to Pea River Electric who has installed over 200 miles of fiber and has over 100 customers turned onto broadband.
“We are not only excited about the special opportunity but the opportunity Wallace is bringing us to train some of our employees,” said Jeff Hodges, Pea River CEO.
State officials say this is a long journey but they are working diligently it could take about six years before the state is linked.