Rural broadband on the horizon

Published 12:20 pm Thursday, January 14, 2021

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Approximately 70 percent of Chambers County is unserved by broadband internet.

This presented an even larger problem when the COVID-19 pandemic began last March. Many businesses moved their operations to work-from-home situations and relied heavily on video conferencing to conduct necessary meetings. Even state and local governments turned to video conferencing to conduct their normal business.

This can be problematic for those in areas that lack quality connectivity or have no broadband options.

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We reported that Point Broadband Fiber Holding, LLC won a reverse auction bid with the FCC to bring broadband services to portions of East Alabama that are currently unserved.

The work that was done by Chris Busby, the Chambers County Development Authority’s Director of Commercial & Community Development, will soon bring a large portion of Chambers County into the current age of internet connectivity.

Equipping these areas with broadband speeds that are not served through satellite is important for many reasons.

Most importantly, as stated earlier, is education. Much of how our children learn involves technology and requires faster speeds for audio and video presentations.

“Kids are working from home, they can’t do their homework, they can’t Zoom with their classmates. Even if we’re not in a pandemic, so much of education now is online. So that’s critical to be able to provide our students with the ability to effectively do their education work,” Busby said.

The CCDA will also benefit from expanded broadband coverage, Busby said.

“The biggest thing for us as an economic development entity is the effectiveness of business. We cannot locate a company anywhere that doesn’t have broadband. That’s just the way their businesses flow,” he said. “It’s absolutely critical in order to attract new business, and no one’s going to go where there’s not broadband.”

The availability of broadband is also essential for attracting new residents.

“We can attract residents who don’t want to live in big cities, but you know, they can still work if they have that access to broadband,” Busby said. “We are all extremely excited about this. And, the fact that we know we’ve got this money is just a huge economic benefit.”

This is just the first step in a long list of ways the CCDA is working to move Chambers County forward and one that will no doubt attract new business as well as new residents.

Great work bringing this exciting upgrade to the much-needed areas of Chambers County, and we look forward to the many new ventures coming in 2021.