Pine Belt Communications has been awarded $49.7 million to expand its fiber internet network into several rural parts of west central Alabama. The award is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $502 million in loans and grants awarded to different operators across the country for construction of high-speed internet access for rural residents and businesses in 20 states. The funding is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to investing in rural infrastructure and providing reliable, affordable, high-speed internet for all. USDA is making the investments through a third funding round of the ReConnect Program.
Pine Belt serves west central Alabama, and this award will allow the company to expand its fiber services to various unserved areas of Marengo, Choctaw, Perry, Clarke, Dallas, and Wilcox counties.
“Pine Belt Communications has been serving parts of central Alabama since 1958 and we’ve expanded in the last couple of years into underserved parts around our core footprint of Arlington, Dixons Mills, Sweet Water, & Nanafalia.” said John Nettles, Pine Belt’s president. “This is the second allocation of expansion capital that we have secured through the USDA ReConnect program, all of which will be used to construct 100% fiber to the customer premises networks” he went on to say. Illustrated above in green is the company’s current fiber footprint and the blue areas are where this most recent award will fund new construction. Pine Belt’s first ReConnect award was announced in 2020 and Nettles says that construction has recently started. The areas where those funds are being deployed are shaded yellow on the map. “It’s an understatement to say we are excited to extend services to the areas targeted by these funds. The total construction process will take 5 to 6 years but when we are done, those of us in this part of the state will be on the leading edge of broadband connectivity instead of lagging behind the technology curve as it seems is so often the case. Likewise, everybody at Pine Belt is looking forward to becoming as engrained in the additional communities as we are in our incumbent footprint. And finally,when you couple these investment plans with the complete rebuild of our wireless network that will be happening in parallel under the FCC's Secure and Trusted Networks Program, well, hopefully everyone will recognize our deep commitment to this part of Alabama” Nettles added.