High speed internet “surfing” into rural Alabama

HAMILTON, Ala. (WCBI) – Residents and businesses in parts of rural northwest Alabama will soon have access to high speed internet.

That announcement was made Thursday afternoon at Tombigbee Electric Cooperative in Hamilton, Alabama.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey was joined by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Congressman Robert Aderholt and other business and government leaders for the announcement.

Tombigbee Communications, a subsidiary of Tombigbee Electric Cooperative was awarded a $3,000,000 grant from the USDA.

That grant will allow Tombigbee to offer ultra high speed fiber optic internet service to rural Marion County.

Governor Ivey says the expansion of broadband service to rural areas, not served by for profit companies, shows what can happen, when partnerships are forged at the local, state and federal levels.

“This is another example of how our conservative congress and the Trump administration are fullfulling their promise to work with state and local governments, rather than dictate to us,” Gov. Ivey said.

In the audience was Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, he brought along a contingent of Mississippi lawmakers. Now the rallying cry, broadband is needed in rural Mississippi.

“Less than 15 miles from the Mississippi line, rural Alabama is getting some of the highest speed internet service in America by a non profit, if they can do it in Alabama, we can do it in Mississippi,” Presley said.

Presley says Mississippi legislators will have to amend state law to allow electric power associations to form a company that will deliver broadband service to rural areas.

“It’s going to happen, I guarantee you that. Mississippi is a rural state. I don’t see any problem. I think this would be the best thing in the world that could happen for Mississippi,” said Sen. Charles Younger.

Senator Younger and other lawmakers say bringing broadband to rural Mississippi is as important as bringing electricity to rural homes and businesses in the 1930s.

Lawmakers at the announcement say the issue will be brought up during next year’s legislative session.

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