Gov. Kay Ivey is expected to sign legislation addressing one of the priorities from her State of the State address, following final passage of the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Act.
SB 149 by Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Red Hill, passed the House of Representatives 100-0 Tuesday, with a standing ovation. The Senate concurred Wednesday 26-0.
“As a farmer, I know the challenges for rural Alabamians in keeping up with technology,” Scofield said. “This is a great start, but we have to keep working. I look forward to the day when all Alabamians have access to high speed internet ”
SB 149 provides grants through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) to companies investing in broadband infrastructure. Individual grants would be capped at 20 percent of the cost of approved broadband infrastructure projects, not to exceed $750,000 for transmission speeds of 10 megabits download and one megabit upload. Projects supporting 25-megabit download and three-megabit upload speeds could qualify for up to $1.4 million.
The bill would require 40 percent of grant funds to be spent for internet services in unincorporated areas of the state. Funding for the grants could come from legislative appropriations or federal initiatives. The bill would create the Alabama Rural Broadband Oversight Committee to ensure efficient and effective use of funds.