Alabama will put a dent in its digital divide by expanding broadband access to rural areas with five federal grants worth more than $111 million announced today by the White House, part of the $7 billion in federal economic stimulus funds dedicated to improving the Internet infrastructure in small-town America.
The largest of the Alabama grants is $59 million and was awarded to Trillion Communications Corp. in Bessemer. The company, representing the South Central Alabama Broadband Commission, will help deliver fiber-based connectivity to households, businesses and community institutions in the eight counties of Macon, Lowndes, Dallas, Wilcox, Butler, Crenshaw, Conecuh and Escambia, according to the company's application.
Vice President Joe Biden announced the latest round of 94 broadband projects in 37 states worth $1.8 billion, and the grants were awarded through the Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture.
"This is putting Americans back to work in the near-term by managing projects, digging trenches, laying fiber-optic cable, stringing utility poles and building wireless transmission towers, but also the second goal is to lay the groundwork for sustainable economic growth in areas of the country that for too long have been without the economic, educational and social benefits of high-speed Internet," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke told reporters Wednesday.
In addition to the $59.3 million grant awarded to Trillion, the list of Alabama awards includes: $19.1 million to the North Alabama Electric Cooperative for Jackson and Marshall counties; $6.2 million to JKM Consulting for east-central Alabama; $26 million to Troy Cablevision Inc. for Pike, Coffee, Crenshaw and Dale counties; and $461,000 for Boat People SOS Inc. to create public computer centers in areas recovering from Hurricane Katrina on the coast.
A sixth grant to the Appalachian Valley Fiber Network shares $21.3 million for broadband projects in Georgia and Alabama.
Connecting Alabama: Broadband Availability Mapping