Jamie Kiel 01.jpg

Jamie Kiel

A $375,171 grant will help the National Telephone Company expand broadband internet service to the Red Rock area in western Colbert County.

The grant was awarded to Alabama House District 18 by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, state Rep. Jamie Kiel said.

Keil, R-Russellville, campaigned on bringing greater access to rural broadband internet to state residents.

“This is a small victory for our community,” Kiel said. “I will continue to work through the legislative process to ensure everyone in House District 18 has access to rural broadband internet.”

Kiel represents rural Colbert County and portions of Lauderdale and Franklin counties.

“We are honored to receive this award from the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund and Gov. Kay Ivey," said Joey Garner, executive vice president of TEC, National Telephone Company's parent company. "This grant assists TEC in our commitment to improving the communities we serve, bringing increased fiber internet options to rural Alabama. We are excited to begin construction and get more communities connected."

TEC spokeswoman Jordan Kay said work on both projects is expected to begin this year.

The matching grant the company received in December through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Colbert County Community Broadband Project will provide fiber internet connectivity to more than 400 homes in the communities of Allsboro, Mynot, Maud, Mhoontown and Eagle Point in western Colbert County.

The new fiber deployment will cover 171 square miles in north Alabama to allow an increase in service availability and internet speeds up to 1 Gbps.

TEC has been providing telecom services to rural America for nearly a century. The company was the first to bring internet options to its rural markets over 20 years ago.

Colbert County Superintendent of Education Gale Satchel said the expanded service will benefit students, faculty and staff who live in the Red Rock community.

"We certainly appreciate Rep. Kiel's hard work and diligence in this process," Satchel said. "Also, Troy Rutland with TEC has secured additional bandwidth in Cherokee. During these times, community partnerships are priceless."

Satchel said students can also use WiFi internet that is available in county school parking lots. Chromebooks sent home with students will automatically connect to the school system's WiFi, or they can sign in as a guest.

TEC, which serves the Cherokee area, announced it will not terminate voice or internet service and will not apply late fees for any accounts that are past due related to disruptions caused by COVID-19.

The company is also installing public WiFi hot spots for use by students and remote workers.

For information on hotspot locations and availability, go to TEC.com/public-wifi.

russ.corey@timesdaily.com

or 256-740-5738. Twitter

@TD_.RussCorey

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