MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — During an event in Dothan on Tuesday, Gov. Kay Ivey announced a name for the Alabama initiative to expand access to high-speed internet across the state.
Ivey said the efforts will be grouped under the name “Be Linked Alabama,” which now has its own website that includes an Alabama Broadband Map, county profiles and dashboards and statewide broadband news.
“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,” Ivey said in a statement on Tuesday. “As we launch Be Linked Alabama today, we are furthering our commitment to fully connecting our state.”
The statewide initiative will be coordinated by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), which will complete and submit Alabama’s required plan for use of the funds to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
“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,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said in a statement. “Be Linked Alabama represents the progress that we have made, and the continued progress still to come.”
On Tuesday Ivey announced that over $400 million in federal funding will be utilized, in addition to the $1.4 billion from the U.S. Department of Commerce Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program (BEAD) that she announced in June.
“The funding announced today will have a lasting impact on Alabama’s future,” Boswell said in a statement. “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.”Boswell said in a statement.
Since 2018, Alabama has invested $88.6 million in state dollars through grant awards, according to Ivey’s office.
Ivey’s office estimates that once all the projects awarded to date have been completed, access to internet service will be available to over 82,000 Alabama households, businesses and community institutions that do not have access to high-speed internet.
Her office additionally reported that significant investments have poured in thanks to federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
During the Tuesday meeting, Ivey said grant applications will open soon for the $182 million from the Capital Projects Fund. In September 2022, Governor Ivey announced the grant, which would improve access for “last-mile” projects that provide connections to homes, businesses and community anchor institutions. The application period is expected to open on Monday, August 14, and close in October.
Additionally, Ivey announced that Alabama’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. $200 million is expected to support this program, with the potential to serve 500 anchor facilities, according to Ivey. The application dates for the AIMM program will be announced at a workshop held on August 11.