Broadband Service Available to Rural Areas

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JACKSON COUNTY After months of planning, a new wireless broadband service is being offered to several counties in the panhandle. T

The Florida Rural Broadband Alliance just wrapped up adding broadband service to rural and underserved areas in 9 northwest Florida counties.

"We're bringing another type of technology, in terms of the wireless broadband technology, and also we're bringing more service opportunities and service provisions to the area," explained Opportunity Florida Executive Director Jim Brook.

The project was made possible by a $24 million grant. The service will be a huge benefit to hospitals, public safety buildings, and school districts.

"Having an additional internet provider will support our instruction in the classroom as we move to a one to one initiative,” said Jackson County School Director of Federal Programs Michael Kilt. “Our students will be accessing the internet on a daily basis and we need to have a reliable connection."

Right now Jackson County schools only have two internet vendors (Centurylink and AT&T), and when the internet goes down they lose that service. With this new source of broadband, school officials said they will now have a plan B.

"When you only have one access to a service provider, you become very reliable on it,” explained Kilt. “You always have to have a plan b, so this gives us that plan B, which is very important."

Broadband provider Affiniti will now begin marketing the network.

"What that does for a community is it gives you one extra choice that more than likely will start to drive your cost down and the access to bandwidth up,” said Affiniti Vice President of Sales, Carl Heininger.

FRBA will replace the current Chipola College cell tower. It is expected to go up sometime in July.