Taxpayer Broadband Dollars Should Go To Unserved Rural Areas, ACBA Says
MONTGOMERY, AL (May 4, 2020) – The Alabama Cable and Broadband Association (ACBA) said today that it welcomes additional investment of federal relief dollars for improved broadband access in Alabama, but cautioned that such funds should be aimed solely at the state’s unserved customers and without preference for a specific technology.
With the substantial federal resources being aimed at COVID-19 response and economic recovery, an estimated $1.7 Billion in federal relief dollars is available to Alabama from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on March 27th. Some State Senate members are now calling for nearly half of that amount - $800 million - to be applied to deploying broadband internet access in the state.
ACBA Executive Director Michelle Roth said the state’s cable providers are encouraged to hear about prioritizing rural broadband deployment to unserved areas of Alabama.
“We share the view that broadband plays an important role in education, healthcare, economic development and other quality of life measures across our state. With that said, we firmly believe any new public funding should focus first on those that currently have no options available for broadband internet access. While cable providers already offer broadband services to 1.8 million homes and businesses in Alabama, our efforts continue to include bringing this access to areas of our state that currently have no broadband options,” she said.
Roth also said federal or state funds intended for broadband deployment should be technology-neutral, meaning no particular technology should get priority funding over another. “While some areas may be better suited for fiber, coaxial cable, satellite or other forms of wireless, utilizing a one-size-fits-all approach that favors a particular technology over others is fundamentally unfair and, more significantly, could delay the most timely and efficient deployment of broadband. It is critical that all stakeholders play a part in pursuit of this important goal.”
“As the country responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cable industry continues to work to ensure that Americans remain connected to one another and their communities. The industry is focused on delivering fast and reliable service to enable their customers to have access to critical resources in this time of need. As the state’s largest provider of broadband, ACBA and its members look forward to continuing our efforts to serve more Alabamians,” Roth said.
# # #
Founded in 1965, the Alabama Cable and Broadband Association provides its members with a unified voice on issues affecting the cable and telecommunications industry, serving as the advocate for our cable providers, operators, suppliers and programmers. Alabama’s cable industry provides rural, urban and suburban broadband telecommunications services to residents and businesses across the state’s 67 counties. Cable providers employ more than 2,800 Alabamians, enable more than 24,000 direct and indirect jobs, and have a total economic impact in Alabama of $3.6 billion.