OZARK, Ala. (WDHN) — Alabama is ranked 47th in the nation when it comes to broadband access. Now, utility companies say the state is making a major stride towards the fixation, especially in rural areas.

“Rural Alabama being Barbour, Dale, and Henry County does not have internet access,” Pea River Electric Cooperative CEO Jeff Hodges said.

The state is working to change that inconvenience through the recently announced $82 million ”middle mile” project.

The middle mile is referred to as the segment that connects a local access point to the major carriers.

“Just because you have the network until you can get to the internet in Marietta Street in Atlanta or Chattanooga or Dallas,” Hodges said. “You can’t bring quality internet to the rural area this will help reach those areas.”

Eight cooperatives including Powersouth in Andalusia, the sister cooperative for Pea River will create a fiber utility network that will connect over 300 towns and cities.

“Its gonna open up a lot of the black belt and the shoals, really good coverage for Alabama,” He said.

Ceo Jeff Hodges said they recently conducted a survey for their members in each county and the majority of the surveys came back showing a lack of internet access.

Hodges said when they are able to offer this ten-gig internet, it’s going to be a game changer for residents and cost-effective.

“This will be equal to what you can get in downtown Atlanta, recruit businesses that need that activity, it will help with education, telemedicine and help people work from home,” He added.

Hodges said the work will begin as early as this year although the time frame is still about 3 years out.