MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Last month, Gov. Kay Ivey awarded $82.45 million through a grant to provide greater statewide broadband service availability throughout much of rural Alabama.
Gov. Ivey said the funds will be used by Fiber Utility Network, a corporation formed by eight rural electric cooperatives to fund a “middle-mile” broadband network that will have a statewide impact.
The eight electric cooperatives include Central Alabama, Coosa Valley, Covington, Cullman, Joe Wheeler, North Alabama, PowerSouth, and Tombigbee.
The Alabama Middle-Mile Network project involves filling in gaps in broadband expansion and results in more cost-effective and feasible ways to provide broadband service availability to residents in rural areas.
“Achieving full broadband coverage is a journey, not a short trip, and today is an important step toward completing that journey,” said Gov. Ivey. “The Alabama Middle-Mile project – the infrastructure setting part of this journey – is going to lead our state to be the model for the nation when it comes to providing broadband capabilities. In 2022, being able to be connected at home, work or on the on go is absolutely necessary, and this is certainly key to making that a reality.”
The Fiber Utility Network will create a middle-mile network that will connect almost 3,000 miles of existing and new fiber infrastructure within a three-year period.
When complete, the network will provide improved access to unserved areas for the last-mile projects that provide actual broadband availability to homes, businesses and schools. Once connected, residents will have the ability to become a customer of the last-mile broadband providers.
Funds for the project are being provided through the American Rescue Plan Act. The use of those funds was approved earlier this year by the Alabama Legislature.