More than 8,000 rural Alabama households, farms, businesses and health care facilities are poised to benefit from a $62.3-million high-speed broadband infrastructure investment.
In early December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the investment through the first round of its ReConnect Pilot Program. Impacted Alabama counties include Marion, Lamar, Fayette, Franklin, Winston, Walker, Choctaw, Washington, Jackson, DeKalb and Colbert counties.
Lamar County Farmers Federation President Will Gilmer said the new connectivity will improve efficiency on his dairy farm, which currently has no wired connection and limited LTE or 4G.
“If we’re doing mechanical work and looking up a part on the schematics, I need a bigger screen than a phone,” Gilmer said. “A lot of the time, I go back from the farm to the house looking things up.”
He also noted internet access would allow for participation in online marketing of animals and help directly download milk weights and quality samples. Gilmer currently downloads the information at home using a limited DSL connection, formats it, saves the intel on a thumb drive and transfers it to his farm computer.
“Since I don’t have internet at the farm, (the direct-download software) doesn’t work,” he said.
The loans and loan-grant combinations will create or improve connectivity through the Tombigbee Electric Cooperative, Millry Telephone Co., Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative and National Telephone of Alabama.
Learn more at rd.usda.gov.