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Thousands of Alabamians still without high-speed internet

Updated: Mar. 25, 2021 at 7:48 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Macon County resident Kellie Sirmon is one example of the thousands of Alabamians who don’t have access to high-speed internet.

“My husband doesn’t access his medical records from home. We don’t have that kind of capability,” Sirmon said.

Sirmon also home-schools their four kids.

“We cannot do any kind of Zoom classes,” she said. “We can’t do any kind of online classes.”

What’s most frustrating for Sirmon is that her parents are just a two-minute drive from her house where they have access to high-speed internet.

“It’s more frustrating when access is coming and it’s getting so close but it just won’t come here,” she explained.

The state has taken some steps in the past few years to bring high-speed internet to rural areas. Since 2018, Alabama has awarded more than $19 million in grants to provide 25,000 potential new services.

“And it’s going to take these grants pushing companies to provide access to people like me,” Sirmon said.

A spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs responded to the need people have for broadband.

“We certainly understand the need to have reliable, affordable broadband service within local communities in areas that are currently unserved. Broadband is a private sector service and ADECA has no authority to direct where and when providers expand their offerings. The best thing a person in this situation can do is to communicate with the service providers in the area and make sure any unserved neighbors are doing the same,” the spokesperson said.

Here is a map of the Broadband Accessibility Fund projects and coverage areas.

Alabama lawmakers are also looking at ways to expand broadband access. And they could look to the most recent federal stimulus package for answers.

“Broadband is probably going to be one of the top possibilities for those dollars,” said Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur.

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