State grant to provide high speed internet to north of county

Published 8:30 am Thursday, February 29, 2024

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A grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs will provide over 600 homes and businesses in Chambers County with high-speed internet access. 

The broadband grant awarded $3,068,403.81 to Spectrum for the project and was released on Feb. 27. Chambers County Development Authority Director Chris Busby discussed the grant at Monday’s Chambers County Commission meeting. 

The project proposes placing 96 route miles of fiber construction in Chambers County to provide high-speed internet. The project is expected to serve 681 households, businesses and institutions. 

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“Our office has worked a long time to try to expand broadband. And so a lot of barriers we faced with this so it’s just exciting,” Busby said. 

Areas in the northern part of the county like Fredonia, Abanda and Five Points will be impacted. These areas have been a priority for the CCDA for a long time. Busby said the grant is a big win for the parts of the county that haven’t had access to high-speed internet. 

To be eligible for the grant, the area must be considered either underserved or unserved. An unserved area has zero megabits per second whereas an underserved area would have 25 upload megabits and 3 download megabits per second. A served area would have at least 100 upload megbits and 20 download megabits per second. 

Busby’s office helped Spectrum with gathering information needed on the underserved areas in the county for their application. He said his goal is to continue to push for more broadband expansion until the entire county is adequately served. 

“It’s a big task, but it’s just as important as power, and especially with people being able to work from home,” Busby said. “… [It’s a] big initiative in our office that we’ll continue to fight for.”

The state awarded 66 Capital Projects Fund grants totaling $148.3 million to 16 internet service providers across the state. The funds are sponsored by the American Rescue Plan Act funding and allocated by ADECA. 

Spectrum received 23 total grants amounting to $44.83 million and serving 22,000 potential households and businesses. These grants will serve not just Chambers County but also Bibb, Butler, Calhoun, Cleburne, Coosa, Colbert, Cullman, Elmore, Etowah, Geneva, Greene, Houston, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Marshall, Montgomery, Morgan, Pickens, St. Clair, Talladega, Tallapoosa and Tuscaloosa counties.