Alabama co-ops awarded US$82.4m for broadband fibre infrastructure project

The project will provide improved access to unserved areas

Eight electric co-ops in the state of Alabama, USA, have won a US$82.4m (£74.5m) grant to build 3,000 miles of broadband fibre infrastructure for internet access.

Named Alabama Middle-Mile, the project will be developed by Fiber Utility Network, a corporation formed by eight rural electric co-operatives: Central Alabama, Coosa Valley, Covington, Cullman, Joe Wheeler, North Alabama, PowerSouth and Tombigbee.

“Achieving full broadband coverage is a journey, not a short trip, and today is an important step toward completing that journey. 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,” said Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. “In 2022, being able to be connected at home, work or on the go is absolutely necessary, and this is certainly key to making that a reality.”

The three-year project will create a middle-mile network connecting almost 3,000 miles of existing and new fibre infrastructure and providing improved access to unserved areas.

The development is being funded through the American Rescue Plan Act. The grant was awarded by Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (Adeca), which is administering the award through its Alabama Digital Expansion Division.

“The project is the springboard to supplying broadband services for rural residents, businesses, educational facilities and other community anchors,” said ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell. “I commend the Fiber Utility Network for their willingness to undertake this necessary step to ensure more Alabamians have access to these services.”

“The eight electric co-operatives that make up the Fiber Utility Network are honoured to be a part of building a middle mile network to bring internet service closer to those Alabamians,” said Tom Stackhouse, president of the Fiber Utility Network. “We want to thank Governor Ivey and the staff at ADECA for the vision, leadership and assistance to make this a reality.”