DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — The state of Alabama has access to $291 million that can be used to help bring high-speed internet to every home and business in the state.
“This money’s really going to help get it into underserved areas, but it’s nowhere near going to touch the need we have across the state,” Alabama State Senator Donnie Chesteen said.
To get high-speed internet across the state, it would cost between $2 billion and $4 billion, but with the $191 million from the American Rescue Plan, and $100 million from the infrastructure, the state will be able to attack the issue of high-speed internet throughout the state.
The current internet minimum is 25 megabits down and three up, which means a download of 25 megabits a second.
Then, it uploads 3 megabits a second, but the new federal funding could mean faster speeds.
“The speed is going to be 100 down and 20 up. So it’s going to be much faster,” Chesteen said.
This broadband will be extended through fiber optic cables, and legislators are trying to provide internet providers the funds to extend their coverage throughout the state.
For example: in Geneva County, one of those rural underserved counties, Charter Spectrum will be spending $7 million to offer 5,500 homes broadband.
Now, that doesn’t mean that everyone will take Spectrum up on its offer, but the company is trying to make the service available and affordable.
“That customer there is not paying any more for high-speed internet, then the neighborhood is,” Chesteen said.
Bringing high-speed internet to the entire state of Alabama will take some time, but legislators now have a map of every household in the state with its WiFi connection speed.
This map will be available to the public in January and will serve as a tool to accomplish the overall goal.
“To have every home and every business in the state with high-speed internet,” Chesteen said.