Broadband Internet Project On Track for Eight Panhandle Counties

By: Bryan Anderson Email
By: Bryan Anderson Email

Marianna- It was another busy day Tuesday at the Florida Rural Broadband Alliance's warehouse in Marianna.

"There's a lot of moving parts to this whole process," said Opportunity Florida incoming Chairman Byron Ward.

Ward said the group has made significant progress on the project in the last several months.

"We've designed the system, we've laid it out, and now that's what we're implementing," said Ward.

He said as the equipment continues to arrive at the warehouse, the focus now is getting the community involved. That's because the federal stimulus grant paying for the project requires affected communities to contribute thirty percent of the infrastructure.

"They have agreed to provide us towers and things that go into the original design. Now we have contracts out there to get signed and those take time, everybody has to look at them, and that's our biggest concern," said Ward.

The counties involved in this internet upgrade include Jackson, Washington, Holmes, Gadsden, and Calhoun. Franklin, Gulf, and Liberty Counties are also on the list.

"How much of an impact will broadband internet have on these eight rural counties that right now have DSL at the best," News Channel 7's Bryan Anderson asked Opportunity Florida Executive Director Rick Marcum.

"It's a game changer," said Marcum.

Marcum said the move to a faster internet will have a major impact, and not just on the avid Facebook user or Twitter addict.

"The impact on education, distance learning, telemedicine, and all the social benefits that come with that, law enforcement putting up cameras. All of that will be taken care of with this network," said Marcum.

The Alliance said it should have eighty percent of the broadband infrastructure up and running by the end of August. The entire project is expected to be completed by next year. Once the infrastructure is in place, it will be up to individual providers to come in and offer broadband internet service.

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  • by techy Location: LH on Mar 21, 2012 at 06:47 PM
    Unfortunately the gov't has screwed up so much that more and more people are becoming untrusting of anything associated with it. They, gov't, are not plugging into our computers and spying on us, some of you watch too many re-runs of the X-Files.
  • by Beth Location: Bristol on Mar 21, 2012 at 12:57 PM
    This is a project for rural counties. Liberty is the most rural county in Florida and it was not included. Is this looking to provide rural counties who does not have broadband services or is it to provide better broadband services to the more populace counties? This appears to providing service to the served, not underserved.
  • by Chris Location: Lanark Village on Mar 21, 2012 at 07:41 AM
    Why are people complaining about this? So they have been talking about this for a year? That makes sense because it takes time for software development. Finding the right equipment for the customers to use which falls in line with the (routers). It takes time people. The routers must be ordered and put into stock for the release date. So the talk you hear is good. And this has nothing to do with CAMERA'S IS USE BY LAW ENFORCEMENT. This is broadband internet which is so much faster than the DSL they have in northern Florida. Be patient and get a grip.
  • by Great instincts Location: Washjngton county on Mar 21, 2012 at 07:03 AM
    Excellent. Of course our president has talked at length about a rural broadband initiative like the rural electrification act from the 1930s. I was surprised to see it was in someway part of the federal stimulus act. The change that good internet access brings is profound in every aspect of life and commerce. This initiative is truly a lasting stimulus for the county's that receive it. This is exactly the kind of forward thinking we all need.
  • by Dave Location: Marianna on Mar 21, 2012 at 06:41 AM
    They have been talking about this for about a year. So far, all we have to show for it is talk!
  • by Steve Location: Port St. Joe on Mar 20, 2012 at 05:35 PM
    I was following along so well until I got to the part where it meant we got to be like liberal San Francisco and have law enforcement cameras all over the place. NO WAY IN GULF COUNTY
  • by Chitt'lin Location: Bonifay on Mar 20, 2012 at 04:44 PM
    You said this new internet woud be for 8 county's. You only listed 7 ???
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