MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - On Wednesday, the Alabama Senate passed a bill intended to help broadband expansion in the state.
If signed into law, Senate Bill 215 would establish the Alabama Digital Expansion Authority. This group will develop a statewide connectivity plan to expand high-speed internet across the state. It will also determine which parts of the state are deemed rural, underserved or unserved.
Thirty-two state senators voted for the bill. No one voted against it.
The Alabama Digital Expansion Authority would be in charge of ongoing upgrades to networks, technological equipment, and end user devices as needed to meet the evolving and increasing connectivity needs of applicants to the authority on a project-specific basis.
The group is also meant to find the most cost-effective way to expand fiber network throughout the state.
“Access to high-speed internet is critical to creating economic development and driving our state forward, and it is one of the most urgent needs we are dealing with in our state today,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston. “Alabama is currently ranked 47th in the nation when it comes to internet access, according to U.S. News and World Report, and we are only getting further behind.
“It’s time that we put a powerful plan in motion to successfully deliver high-speed internet services to all Alabamians, and this legislation is a significant step forward in supplying broadband connectivity to all four corners of the state,” he said.
SB215 now heads to the Alabama House of Representatives for consideration.