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Cullman Electric receives $1.46 million of Gov. Ivey’s $188 million middle-mile broadband expansion funding

By February 5, 2024April 24th, 2024No Comments

Govenor Kay Ivey and Tim Culpepper, CEO along with others at press conference

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced the awarding of more than $188 million to continue the expansion of high-speed internet access in Alabama

The grants, totaling $188,453,905, were awarded to 12 internet service providers to install more than 4,000 miles of “middle-mile” projects throughout Alabama. Middle-mile projects help fill the gap in broadband expansion to make it more economically feasible and less labor-intensive for providers to extend services to unserved businesses and households in the state.

Cullman Electric Cooperative will receive $1.46 million to install middle-mile connections in various areas of Cullman County that include 15 anchor institutions and cover 106 miles. Cullman Electric CEO Tim Culpepper thanked Gov. Ivey, ADECA director Kenneth Boswell and the entire ADECA staff for their work to expand high-speed internet service in Alabama.

“These strategic connections will improve communications within our electric distribution grid, improving outage response and restoration, and will further enhance the quality of our Sprout Fiber Internet service,” Culpepper said. “The areas impacted by this grant funding include community anchor institutions such as Sheriff’s office annexes, fire departments and libraries. While middle-mile grant funding will not be used in Cullman Electric’s ongoing efforts to bring Sprout Fiber Internet to all co-op members, it is essential to improving the quality of life for all Cullman Electric members. We also want to recognize and thank our local legislative delegation of Sen. Garlan Gudger, Rep. Randall Shedd, Rep. Tim Wadsworth and Rep. Corey Harbison for their continued support of rural broadband expansion and Sprout Fiber Internet.”

Governor Ivey made the announcement of grants from the Alabama Anchor Institution/Middle Mile Grant Program on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, in her hometown of Camden. Wilcox County and other rural counties are among the areas in Alabama where the middle-mile projects will be completed.

“Rural Alabama, like so many other places in the state, is in need of increased access to high-speed internet, and today we are taking a significant stride in our journey toward full broadband access,” said Gov. Ivey. “These middle-mile projects will be extremely beneficial to our anchor institutions, and it puts us in a desirable situation where the ‘last mile’ projects that will supply broadband service to businesses and households are more economical and attainable.”

Anchor institutions include schools, hospitals and medical facilities and government and public safety buildings. Many are located on or near the middle-mile routes and more than 790 will be served by the projects.

Alabama Fiber Network, a coalition of eight rural electric cooperatives, including Cullman Electric, received $128.8 million to install five middle-mile projects totaling 1,776 miles and connecting 438 anchor institutions in Bibb, Butler, Chilton, Choctaw, Conecuh, Dale, Dallas, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jefferson, Lowndes, Marengo, Monroe, Perry, Pickens, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox counties.

“Middle-mile fiber projects are necessary to build a statewide fiber network that will connect communities, schools, hospitals, law enforcement and government agencies throughout the state,” Culpepper said. “Cullman Electric Cooperative is proud to be part of the Alabama Fiber Network that is constructing this statewide network.”

Funding for the latest middle-mile program came from an allocation made by the Legislature from the state’s share of American Rescue Plan Act Funds.