Tag: broadband access

Gov. Ivey Awards $9.5 Million in Broadband Expansion Grants

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Kay Ivey awarded 20 broadband expansion grants totaling more than $9.5 million to provide high-speed internet access to communities across Alabama.

The grants are part of the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund and awarded to nine broadband providers to help fund multiple projects in their coverage areas.

Ivey said that high-speed Internet is always important to have but especially now as cases of COVID-19 have increased in the state and more people are asked to work and learn at home. Public schools are now closed and students are finishing the academic year in their houses. Read more.

Crisis Highlights Digital Divide in Alabama

As the state grapples with education, government and industry closures in response to the coronavirus, the digital divide across the state is probably the most apparent it’s ever been. Much of rural Alabama doesn’t have the infrastructure to take broadband Internet into homes.

“You have one-fifth of the state population that doesn’t have access,” Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, said.

The chasm is perhaps most evident in schools, where administrators are faced with decisions when some of the students can partake in online learning and some cannot. Read more.

Broadband Expansion Bill Gets Final Passage

MONTGOMERY — A bill that would allow electric utility companies to offer high-speed internet to rural communities by way of their existing power networks cleared the Alabama Legislature Wednesday and now goes to the governor for her signature.

Supporters say House Bill 400 would alleviate the cost of running new fiber lines to rural areas by allowing utilities such as Alabama Power Co., the Tennessee Valley Authority and regional electric cooperatives to piggyback their existing networks with high-speed cable lines.
Read more.

Budgets, Education Reform Among Bills Pending in Final Stretch of Legislative Session

Alabama lawmakers this year have approved a statewide gas tax increase, told sheriffs they can’t keep money meant for feeding jail inmates and said they want a shot at the U.S. Supreme Court with the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban.

The Legislature has two to three weeks remaining in its 2019 session, and a lot of legislating is left to do. Still on the table are proposals for a lottery, the state’s budgets, education bills and medical marijuana, to name just the tip of the iceberg.

For a look at some of the major bills that are pending and what might get punted to a special session later this year, Read more.

Legislature Advances Broadband Bill, Funding

MONTGOMERY — Expanding access to high-speed broadband internet has been one of the hallmark issues in the Alabama Legislature the past two years. Most lawmakers agree the issue is a priority, but how exactly to go about it remains the subject of much debate.

The Alabama Senate on Thursday approved a 2020 education budget that includes $30 million in potential grant money to expand broadband internet access in the state. If approved by the House and signed by the governor, that money would go to fund a program enacted last year that helps subsidize the cost of internet providers running fiber-optic lines to less-populated areas. Read more.