COVID-19 relief package extends broadband program

The Alabama Broadband Connectivity for Students program will continue into the new year following an announcement by Gov. Kay Ivey on Dec. 28.

Ivey’s announcement came after a provision in the COVID-19 relief package Congress passed last week and President Donald Trump signed Dec. 27.

The goal of the program remains to provide broadband as an option for every K-12 student in the state.

According to the program’s website, abcstudents.org, more than 200,000 students in Alabama have been provided the broadband option since the program’s installation in the summer.

The program has been supported heavily by the CARES Act funding, which was set to reach its spending deadline on Dec. 30.

However, a press release from the Governor’s Press Office stated the recently approved relief package includes an extension of the federal spending deadline into 2021.

The Governor’s Press Office expects the current funding to cover the costs for current participants through the 2021 spring semester.

“Alabama has led nationally with this innovative program via CARES Act funding to ensure that students can participate in distance learning during the pandemic,” Gov. Ivey said. “I am extremely grateful to President Trump and Congress for including the funding extension, and most of all, I am pleased that we will continue to offer this assistance to the families who are signed up for the program. My hope is that this extension is welcome news for both parents and students during an unusual and difficult school year.”

The ABC for Students program is managed by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and Columbia Telecommunications Corporation Technology & Energy serves as a partner to notify participating internet service providers of the extension for current program participants with the goal of minimal disruption in service.

Participants can find information on the program’s website or call the toll-free hotline at 888-212-4998.

ADECA also administers the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund, which provides grant funding to expand broadband service across the state.

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