Clock Ticking on Grant Funding for High-Speed Internet in Rural Alabama

The town of Courtland, AL, population 600, is ready for affordable high-speed internet service and Brent Dennis, President of the Courtland Development Council, wants to make it a reality. Recently, Dennis contacted Christina Argo, a planner for the North Central Alabama Regional Council of Governments, who suggested the town apply for an Appalachian Regional Commission grant, reported the Times Daily.

Regarding the plan for adding wireless infrastructure, Argo called the service “fixed wireless, not wireless internet.” Transmitters would likely be installed on the water tower and city’s electrical poles. Dennis said towers will be camouflaged along tree lines and Traveller Multimedia Network will consider historical landscapes and aviary migratory patterns as well.   

According to Argo, the council will have to match $60,000 of the $200,000 grant, which has a deadline of this Thursday to commit to funding. The grant will pay for the infrastructure and mechanics of getting the internet set-up, Dennis said. 

As of last Friday, the fundraiser was still $15,000 short, but Dennis is optimistic. Broadband provider Traveller Multimedia Network of Huntsville is providing about $30,000 of in-kind services, Dennis said.

He added, “This is pretty significant for the whole county. I’m very hopeful that the money will come through. This can wind up serving as a model for many under-serviced communities. The businesses will receive broadband service first, then the residents of Courtland.”

As for next steps, if the council doesn’t raise enough funds, the project will likely be dead or scaled back significantly, according to Dennis. If the funds do come through, Argo said the grant could be awarded as early as February 2018.

November 28, 2017               

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