Jim Brook, Executive Director for Opportunity Florida, the managing partner for Florida Rural Broadband Alliance (FRBA), spoke to the Gadsden County commission last week.
Brook said the project was 98 percent complete and was at the stage of starting to offer retail broadband providers their service.
FRBA was awarded nearly $24 million through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, which is part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Stimulus Package, to deploy a life-changing broadband project to two rural areas, one of which includes Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty and Washington counties.
Only 39 percent of those counties have broadband access.
Brook explained that FRBA’s project will impact many areas that are either currently without high-speed broadband service or are underserved.
Deploying this project, he said, will provide life-changing opportunities for all residents throughout the project area and thus deliver up to 1,000 times the existing capacity within the coverage area.
There is the potential to connect to more than 860 community anchor institutions and public safety entities, more than 174,000 households, and more than 16,400 businesses.
The service will be offered to school districts, hospitals and public safety.
He said currently the FRBA was looking for providers to market the service to the end users.
The project uses existing cell towers and other structures such as water well towers for the broadband signals.
The initial offerings are 600Mbps to 1Gbps broadband service once the retailers are established. No information was provided for when the service would be available to local consumers.
You can contact Florida Rural Broadband Alliance at 850-718-0453.