Alabama Electric Cooperatives Power Ahead With $35 Million In New State Broadband Grants

Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives logo

Alabama has announced the release of $148.3 million in new broadband grants via the state’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF), made possible by the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). While regional monopolies like Charter nabbed the lion’s share of state funding (once again), cooperatives also secured significant funding to tackle the rural digital divide.

“High-speed internet service continues to strengthen and expand across the state, and we are taking the necessary strides on this journey to achieve full broadband access for Alabama,” Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said in a prepared statement. “This has been a monumental task, but it is one that will pay multiple dividends for our state and its residents. Today is an exciting day as we announce these latest projects.”

Cable giant Charter Communications (Spectrum) was the biggest winner of state funds, awarded 23 grants totaling $44.8 million to shore up access to 22,000 underserved homes across 25 Alabama counties. The next biggest award recipient was Mediacom, which received $22.8 million in grants to fund deployment to 8,000 homes across six Alabama counties.


All told, 16 providers were awarded grants to expand access to 48 different Alabama counties. While regional monopolies were heavily represented in the awards, four different Alabama cooperatives received $34.8 million in grant funding to expand fiber access to more than 11,092 rural Alabama homes and businesses.

Central Alabama Electric Cooperative (CAEC) was awarded $22.94 million in grants to expand broadband access to more than 6,000 homes and businesses across Autauga, Chilton, Coosa, Dallas and Elmore counties. We profiled CAEC’s ongoing multi-phased efforts to tackle the Alabama digital divide back in 2019.

Cullman Electric Cooperative logo

Cullman Electric Cooperative was awarded $4.1 million to shore up broadband access to 1,979 different addresses across Cullman and Winston counties. We updated readers last December on Cullman’s efforts to bring fiber broadband to the cooperative's 44,000 existing electricity customers.

The Pea River Electric Cooperative, which currently services 19,000 electricity customers over three counties, was awarded $5 million to deliver fiber broadband access to 1,529 new households and businesses across Barbour and Henry counties.

Tombigbee elec coop logo

Lastly the Tombigbee Electric Cooperative, which provides electricity access to 9,552 predominantly rural Alabama customers, was awarded a $2.78 million grant to deliver fiber access to 1,584 potential households and businesses across Winston county.

Alabama’s latest grant awards come tightly on the heels of a separate state announcement of more than $188 million in middle mile broadband network grants, also made possible by federal Coronavirus relief legislation that both Alabama state Senators voted against.

Alabama is also poised to receive more than $1.4 billion in additional federal broadband aid, made possible by the 2021 Infrastructure bill – another bill both of the state’s Senators voted against.

While Alalbama is leveraging its electric cooperatives to expand broadband access in rural counties, it is also one of 17 states that ban or restrict municipal broadband networks, usually at the behest of regional private telecom monopolies vying for state grants to expand their monopoly territories.