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Subdivision to benefit from new state broadband grants

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced Thursday that she had awarded $2.9 million in grants for seven projects across the state aimed at “providing more Alabamians with access to high-speed internet services,” according to a press release.

Among those slated to receive grant funding is Spectrum Southeast, which will receive more than $55,400 to extend broadband service availability to 55 households in the Deerfield subdivision west of Selma.

According to Divine Realty in Selma, the average price of homes on the market in Deerfield is between $190,000 and $240,000, while Charles Bruner of Town and Country Real estate said the average home price is around $500,000.

The city as a whole has a poverty rate over 38 percent and a median household income of less than $25,000 a year, according to U.S. Census data.

“The COVID-19 pandemic further emphasized how essential broadband services are to the unserved and underserved residents of Alabama,” Ivey said. “Thanks to the Broadband Accessibility Fund and broadband providers, we are making progress in ensuring that Alabamians have access to high-speed internet services, but there is no question we have a long way to go on completing this mission.”

Spectrum Southeast was awarded two other grants – one for $8,407 to provide high-speed cable access to eight households along Lee County Road 279 near the Halawaka community and another for $245,567 to extend service availability to 316 households in the Marina Marin area of Lake Martin near Alabama Hwy. 50.

According to Three-Sixty Real Estate Realtor Mindy O’Brien, the average home price in the Marina Marin area is $1.5 million.

The grants were awarded through the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund, created by the Alabama Legislature, which was established to “assist broadband providers in extending high-speed internet service for households, businesses and community anchora in unserved areas of the state or in areas lacking minimum threshold service.”

The grants will be administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).

“Having access to high-speed internet can make a huge difference in the lives of Alabamians in terms of doing business, obtaining an education and improving the overall quality of life,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “ADECA is pleased to be a part of this process that will change lives for the better.”

ADECA is conducting a Broadband Speed Survey to help identify gaps in coverage for state planning efforts.

Alabamians can report their internet speed or lack of access by taking the survey at www.alabama.speedsurvey.org or calling 334-353-4589 to complete the survey by phone.

Grants were also awarded to Camellia Communications in the amount of $128,797 for service to 48 households in the Sherling Lake community near Greenville, Millry Telephone Company in the amount of $954,902 for the third phase of a project to cover south Choctaw and north Washington counties and others.