(The Center Square) – A federal investment aimed at improving broadband in rural areas in Alabama is in the works.
Through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development ReConnect loan/grant program, according to a release, Alabama stands to rake in $28,817,588 in grants and another $24,865,787 as part of a loan that will extend high-speed internet access in 10 counties as part of the third round of grants.
The funding was announced by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“President Biden’s commitment to high-speed internet in rural communities is foundational to ensuring that the nation’s economy continues to expand from the bottom up and the middle out,” Vilsack said in a release. “High-speed internet will improve the rural economy. It will help rural businesses grow and get access to new markets. It will help rural residents get access to more and better health care and educational opportunities. USDA knows rural America is America’s backbone, and prosperity here means prosperity for all.”
A loan and grant, according to the release, totaling $49,731,574 will be used to construct a fiber-to-the premises network that will provide high-speed internet access to 15,989 people, 608 businesses, 52 education facilities, and 407 farms in Choctaw, Clarke, Dallas, Marengo, Perry and Wilcox counties.
Pine Belt Telephone Company, the release reads, will work to ensure high-speed internet is affordable through the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, and is aimed at serving communities in Choctaw, Dallas and Clarke counties that are deemed socially vulnerable.
A second grant totaling $3,951,801, according to the release, will be delivered to Butler, Crenshaw, Lowndes and Montgomery counties that will serve 1,812 people, 30 businesses, 53 farms, and four public schools. The FCC’s Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline Program will be used by Mon-Cre Telephone Cooperative Inc. to ensure discounts are made to qualifying users.
Funding for the projects, according to the release, comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.