Pandemic makes rural Internet access a priority in Alabama

By PAUL DEMARCO / Guest Columnist 

Note: This is an opinion column.

The pandemic has effected so many people in different ways. From those that have actually contracted the coronavirus, had a love one pass away or lost a job, everyone has a different story.

For Alabama, so many businesses have struggled due to the lock downs and employees who have been sick. In addition, the education community has struggled  because of the schools being closed and so many students having to learn at home virtually.

Yet, another effect due to the virus has been the lack of high speed internet access to rural communities in the state of Alabama that prohibits some families access to schools, telemedicine, or their jobs.

This past week the Trump Administration through the United States Department of Agriculture awarded $37 million in grants for the installation of more cable fiber and broadband internet to individuals, educational facilities, farms, public safety and community services.

These grants were secured by Alabama’s own Congressman Robert Aderholt who sponsored the program in the United States House of Representatives in 2018.  Even once the pandemic is over, it will be vital for rural communities to have more access to the internet as more business is being conducted online. In addition, online health care and education is here to stay.

Hopefully we are closer to the end then the beginning of the pandemic and when it is over all of Alabama, including our rural communities will have the same access to high speed internet as the rest of the state.

Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives.