Will broadband come to Dallas County?

Published 8:57pm Thursday, July 11, 2013

A group from Auburn University’s Economic and Community Development Institute came to Selma to host a community forum about Broadband high-speed Internet access and the need for it in communities like Selma.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension hosted the program, “Connecting Community Forum with Broadband,” which sought to bring various leaders across the area together for a discussion about the need for Internet services.

“The idea is to increase demand for broadband,” said Logan Matthews with ECDI after leading the discussion Thursday. “We have gone around to different groups ,and talked about all of the different aspects of your life that can be improved and benefited by the Internet.”

An EDI study by Dr. Joe A. Sumners with the ECDI showed that only 56 percent of households in Alabama have broadband access — ranking the state 48th in the nation for Internet coverage.

The study also spoke on how many jobs are created simultaneously with the investment in broadband. Each additional $5 billion investment in broadband creates some 250,000 jobs.

At Thursday’s forum, four participants came to take part in a discussion about the benefits of broadband, challenges to getting broadband used in Dallas County, strategies for implanting it and what comes next.

“We hosted educational seminars on how broadband can help you and assist you prior to this,” Callie Nelson with the Dallas County Extension Service said. “We did everything from eLearning to eHome to eWorkforce development and more. Those programs are still available if anyone wants to have a group to have knowledge about those topics.”

Nelson said residents could contact her office for more information.

The ECDI said they would likely come to Dallas County again for an additional forum and continue discussions about bringing broadband to the area.

Their goal is to provide jobs and increase the quality of life for individuals because broadband, Matthews said, provides people with the ability to apply for jobs online, seek medical advice and get an education.

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