South Central Alabama Broadband Commission
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The digital divide is a real problem throughout rural America. It is especially acute in the South Central Alabama region. The lack of a robust telecommunications infrastructure is a key obstacle to meaningful economic growth.

The population of the region is shrinking. The population of the initial eight counties comprising the district shrank from 184,000 in 2000 to 175,000 by 2010 and is expected to be down to 171,000 by 2015. This decline in population is due in large part to the lack of opportunities for the area's high school and college graduates.

Leading citizens of Lowndes County approached private industry, for advice in dealing with the situation. THe private industry proposed the concept of forming a regional telecommunications authority composed of the various county and municipal jurisdictions in the South Central Alabama region. The objective would be to bring access to high-speed fiber optic and wireless telecommunications to the unserved and underserved members of the community.

These leaders, working with private industry, agreed that, since this is a regional problem requiring a regional solution, forming a regional authority to address the situation is a good strategy. Officials from Lowndes County, Fort Deposit, and Hayneville agreed to be founding members and to recruit the rest of the counties and cities in the region to join the authority.

These founding members formed the SCABC based on a public–private partnership model, where the public would be represented by the SCABC, which would in turn select a private partner through a competitive bidding process. Once formed the partnership would work together to and create a solution that will result in the elimination of the digital divide in the South Central Alabama District.

The counties to be included were selected based on need, the lack of service, and the agreement to work towards this common goal. Based on documented research the service district was expanded to cover the counties of Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Escambia, Green, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery, Morengo, Perry, Pickens, Sumpter and Wilcox and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The partnership has demonstrated its ability to work through adversity and the loss of an initial grant. After analyzing the events and going through a selective process, the SCABC selected its private partner, Oasis Construction Services, Inc in November 2013. Oasis has agreed to the partnership terms in the Request for Qualification process and is working in conjunction with the SCABC to establish the BEST path forward towards project completion.

As the broadband infrastructure is constructed and turned up for operations, commercial service providers (internet service providers, cable television, voice and data networks) will use the infrastructure to provide services to residents, businesses, and institutions in the region. Each service provider will pay a fee to utilize the infrastructure.

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