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Broadband Divide: St. Clair County’s Response to COVID-19
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic last year, schools and residents turned to using broadband for school, work, and shopping at an increased rate. Many school systems and employers have adapted to this new normal, but what about Alabama’s rural communities that do not have the broadband infrastructure to support the demand? The St. Clair County Commission is working to help but needs your input to better understand the areas of need.
The Alabama State Legislature defines “broadband” as an internet service that provides a minimum data download speed of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and an upload speed of 3 Mpbs. In many areas of Alabama, particularly rural areas, broadband internet is limited or unavailable. The State has taken measures to alleviate this issue by making grants available to address the need. However, communities must have an understanding of their areas of need to effectively obtain these grants.
The St. Clair County Commission has contracted with Sain Associates to conduct a study, which in turn will help identify underserved areas and lead to grant awards for upgrades. Sain’s feasibility study will evaluate existing broadband infrastructure and coverage areas and provided a framework for planning and funding projects that address gaps in broadband service in St. Clair County. Objectives of the study included:
The result of the study will be a report containing various maps that will help St Clair County better understand the gaps in broadband internet service. The report will also provide recommendations that will help the Commission formulate a plan for addressing those broadband shortfalls through grants and other funds.
Lack of connectivity presents a number of challenges to underserved counties in Alabama. Luckily, there are solutions for bringing better internet to unserved or underserved areas. During this current climate of increased dependency on broadband, it is critical to provide internet connectivity for businesses and students as they work and learn remotely. We all need to work together to make this happen.
Please click the link to begin the broadband survey: Broadband Survey