MONTGOMERY – Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday during an event in Dothan announced how more than $400 million in federal funding and over $1.4 billion from the U.S. Department of Commerce Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program (BEAD) will be used to expand access to high-speed internet across Alabama. Governor Ivey also unveiled Be Linked Alabama as the name and hub representing the state’s continued efforts to expand access to high-speed internet.
“Providing broadband connectivity to every Alabamian, whether it be in our largest metros or most rural areas, has been a top priority of the Ivey Administration since day one,” said Governor Ivey. “As we launch Be Linked Alabama today, we are furthering our commitment to fully connecting our state. Offering the ability to connect to high-speed internet in all 67 counties is a journey, not a short trip, but Alabama is certainly well positioned to finish this race in the near future.”
The new brand comes alongside significant investments made possible by federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act that were allocated by the Alabama Legislature in 2022 and 2023 to support expansion of high-speed internet to unserved areas of the state.
Governor Ivey announced the upcoming opening of grant applications for the $182 million from the Capital Projects Fund to support “last-mile” projects that provide the actual connections to homes, businesses and community anchor institutions. The application period is expected to open on August 14 and close in October.
Additionally, the state’s new Anchor Institution/Middle Mile (AIMM) program will be funded with the second round of American Rescue Plan Act funds allocated during the 2023 Legislative Session. More than $200 million will support this effort, which will potentially serve 500 anchor facilities – including institutions such as colleges and universities, rural hospitals and government facilities that are inadequately served, along with “middle-mile” deployment that will provide the infrastructure to help facilitate last-mile deployment by internet service providers. The application dates for AIMM program will be announced at a workshop to be held on August 11.
Be Linked Alabama represents the state’s united effort to expand access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet to all Alabamians. The statewide initiative is coordinated by ADECA and brings together partners from across the state, including but not limited to Governor Ivey, the Alabama Legislature, internet service providers, research institutions, utility companies, community leaders and the public as Alabama works toward achieving the goal of high-speed internet access for all.
Also debuting today is the Be Linked Alabama website, a hub of internet expansion information and news. The site is located at broadband.alabama.gov. It includes the Alabama Broadband Map, county profiles and dashboards and statewide broadband news.
“We have a great team in Alabama that includes public officials such as our governor and members of the Legislature, private sector companies, citizens, local leaders and communities all joining together with a common goal – to give every Alabamian the ability to be connected,” said ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell. “Our state has already made tremendous progress on our journey to expand high-speed internet availability by providers, but we still have a long way to go. Be Linked Alabama represents the progress that we have made, and the continued progress still to come.”
“The funding announced today will have a lasting impact on Alabama’s future, and I am proud to have the opportunity to administer the deployment of these funds in a manner that will give our state the maximum benefit. Every dollar counts, and we are going to deploy these dollars efficiently to help make Governor Ivey’s goal of giving all Alabamians access to high-speed internet a reality.”
Since 2018, Alabama has invested $88.6 million in state dollars through grant awards supporting 109 projects through the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund. Once all the projects awarded to date have been completed, access to internet service will be available to more than 82,000 Alabama households, businesses and community institutions that do not have access to high-speed internet. In September 2022, Governor Ivey announced a grant to support broadband “middle-mile” network infrastructure to improve access for last-mile projects.
In addition to today’s announcement, Governor Ivey announced in June that Alabama will receive a $1.4 billion allocation from the federal BEAD Program to boost ongoing efforts to expand access to unserved areas. ADECA will complete and submit Alabama’s required plan for use of the funds to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
Today’s announcement included a demonstration from students trained at the Wallace Community College campus on how to deploy the fiber optic cables needed for high-speed internet delivery. This training, developed through the Alabama Community College System’s Innovation Center, brings together the state’s community colleges, industries and community partners to deliver training offered at no cost to participants thanks to funding provided by Ivey and the Alabama Legislature.