Broadband coming to remote Alabama communities

The goal is by providing internet access, communities will make advances in education, health care and economic development.

Posted: Jan 22, 2019 5:31 PM
Updated: Jan 22, 2019 7:29 PM

Help is on the way for remote Alabama communities that don't have access to broadband.

Pea Ridge, outside of Henegar in DeKalb County, is one of several communities that will receive a grant from the state to make high speed internet possible. For many people in the community, the library is currently their only access to internet, but Governor Ivey's new grant promises change.

At the Henagar Public Library, Director Donna Carlin said many people in the community can't afford the internet access they need to do simple tasks.

"Now everything is online," Carlin said. "Applications for jobs, pay bills, social security."

Last year, the state legislature created a fund to provide high speed internet to communities like Pea Ridge. This grant will help providers like the Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative to give them access.

Ronnie Blevins teaches English as a second language and adult reading out of the Henagar Public Library. She sees the need for high speed internet firsthand.

"My students don't have access to WiFi or internet connection," Blevins said. "I'll ask them, 'Can you get this on the internet?' and they say, 'I don't have that.'"

The goal is by providing internet access, communities will make advances in education, health care and economic development.

"It's progress and I hope it will be used in that way to strengthen the community," Carlin said.

DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Jason Barnett said the grant won't directly impact their schools, but it will affect some students that go to them.

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