Internet input sought locally

Published 11:31 pm Thursday, October 27, 2011

Believe it or not there remain some parts of Covington County where only dial-up Internet is available.

The same holds true for other areas of the state, and now residents are being asked to provide input to address the problem of access to affordable broadband Internet service.

ConnectingALABAMA, part of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, has been working with elected officials, community leaders and residents across the state to analyze high-speed Internet needs by region. The program used the information to develop 12 region-specific plans that are available for review and public comment at

The latest state data shows that 30 percent of residents in region 7, the area that covers Covington, Geneva, Houston, Coffee, Dale, Barbour and Henry counties, do not currently have broadband service.

“Plus, 20 percent of all residents do not have broadband services available to them,” said Josh Phillips, regional coordinator.

“Once considered a luxury, broadband today is essential to grow the economy and improve the quality of life,” Phillips said. “Broadband is the great infrastructure challenge of the early 21st century.”

Region 7 also has a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant awardee that will lay infrastructure in the areas, Troy Cablevision, who will extend connectivity in Coffee, Covington and Dale counties within Region 7, while also expanding into Crenshaw and Pike counties outside the region.

But state officials said they must know the areas where the service is needed, hence the need for public input.

“With access to affordable high-speed Internet service, residents gain many economic and educational opportunities,” ADECA Director Jim Byard Jr. said.

“Connecting underserved areas can lead to more job opportunities, improved access to higher education and health care and much more.”

ConnectingALABAMA is encouraging public feedback on the information and the priorities listed in the plans: What kind of impact will this have on the region?

How will these priorities affect the region in the future? Do you think this will be beneficial to the area?

To answer those questions, visit or contact Phillips at