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Office of Broadband Development forms advisory board, task forces

A nineteen-member advisory board and four task forces have been created as part of the state’s newly-formed Office of Broadband Development.

As we’ve previously reported, Gov. Robert Bentley signed an executive order in July creating the Office of Broadband Development to help local Internet service providers identify ways of expanding a broadband network, also called fiber Internet, statewide.

Fiber Internet is a big draw for businesses due to its connectivity speeds a hundred times faster than existing services. It’s quickly becoming one of the top focal points of economic development officials.

The advisory board includes government officials from a variety of state agencies, and the four task forces consist of a mix of 86 business executives and community leaders from around Alabama. Both will work together to identify gaps of service as well as solutions on how to work with providers on filling them.

The utilization task force will focus on forming partnerships within specific industries such as health care, education, and agriculture, among others. The funding task force will work to establish financial support from local, state, and federal governments, foundations and corporate grants and loans. The access task force will map Alabama’s broadband footprint to identify service gaps and determine viable resources. The policy task force will review state policies and procedures related to broadband deployment.

“Looking at all options for resolving gaps, we are committed to ensuring that those living and working in Alabama’s rural communities have the same advantages as those in Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery or Mobile,” said Kathy Johnson, director for the Office of Broadband Development. “We understand that broadband provides improved access to everything from economic development and public safety to education and healthcare. We are brainstorming creative solutions to broadband access that will help Alabama’s rural communities thrive in the 21st century. It’s time for every community in Alabama to have a bridge across the digital divide.”

December 2, 2015

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