Alabama Working on a New “Story”

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Alabama has come a long way since the days of “Alabama Story” when knowledge pouring through libraries was slow, however, internet speeds in that state can still be slow. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) released a map showing which communities do, and don’t, have adequate broadband coverage, reports the Times Daily. 

Funding from the Broadband Accessibility Fund is available, and Alabama intends to funnel it to regions that are deemed to be underserved. 

By definition, this means that a community has a minimum internet speed of 25 megabits per second for downloads and uploads of 3 Mbps. ADECA and the CTC Technology and Energy have a $1.5 million agreement to develop broadband outreach within the state. 

“We develop a plan and a way to deploy and give people access to the product, but I would be telling you a story if I said state dollars could stop because just as soon as this plan comes in, parts of it will be obsolete,” said Kenneth Boswell of the Alabama House Ways and Means Education Committee as he studied the map. Representative Debbie Woods expressed a concern about the equitable distribution of funds, stating, “I’m just saying that if you look at the map, you really get an understanding of how we’re losing our people and we’re losing it to other areas of our state. If you look to the north, it’s almost covered with internet access. We need to make sure that the money is being spread to 67 counties; it cannot just go to one area.” 

While the map has identified concentrations of broadband coverage, various state legislators weighed in, speaking on behalf of the areas they represent. It seems all of Alabama is hungry for internet access. “It’s a private industry issue but the service provided to Alabamians is critical to our competitiveness, our quality of life, our economic ability,” said Representative Bill Poole. “Everybody relies on the internet now, so we need to help get it there, but we’ve got to have the proper balances.”  

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