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High-speed internet is critical

Chambers County communities without reliable broadband internet are at a distinct disadvantage and suffer in many ways.

However, in the midst of a pandemic that does not show any signs of being over soon, having access to reliable high-speed internet is more essential that ever for jobs and now even school.

The changes brought about by COVID-19 make it crucial to extend affordable, reliable high-speed internet to the thousands who don’t have it.

And the quicker, the better, because the time when they really need it is now.

Last week, Gov. Kay Ivey announced she allocated $100 million in CARES Act funding for a public-private partnership to increase access to internet for K-12 students attending school in the fall who may need internet service for distance learning.

The program, which is called Alabama Broadband Connectivity (ABC) for Students, will provide vouchers for families of students currently eligible for free and reduced-price school meals, or meeting other income criteria.

The funding from the CARES Act will be used to expand internet access by providing equipment and service for broadband, wireless hot spots, satellite, fixed wireless, DSL and cellular-on-wheels.

The type of internet service for an area will depend on the closest available infrastructure that is already in place.

This is a step in the right direction to making sure Alabamians have reliable, high-speed internet access.

This is clearly an emergency solution worth implementing because people need the access and assistance now.

Meanwhile. it is critical to keep working on permanent solutions to make broadband available to all. Chambers County will be stronger for the effort as will the entire state of Alabama.