Supervisors renew talks for internet
Supervisors are back to the grant application stage following an agreement with an internet service provider that includes a $25 million plan to bring high speed internet to more than 3,000 homes in rural Madison County, officials say.
The Madison County Board of Supervisors were updated by Comcast regarding the broadband project in Northern Madison County at their regular Feb. 21, meeting according to board spokesman Heath Hall.
The project will install infrastructure for approximately 3,175 homes to access high-speed internet. The project covers homes in District 5, Paul Griffin’s district.
“Basically that is all of northeast Madison County,” Griffin said during the meeting.
Comcast agreed to apply for a grant through the United States Department of Agriculture while also pursuing other grant opportunities at both the state and federal levels. The County allocated $10 million of its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for this $25 million project but grant awards may allow the county to forego spending any county funds on the project, Hall said.
This agreement follows a failure of Comcast to meet a deadline in early November to apply for the Broadband ReConnect Program, a grant issued by the United States Department of Agriculture. At the time Comcast was reportedly selected from a pool of four internet service providers.
Comcast representative Mike Mitchell was present for the meeting to answer questions for the board. He said he was “disappointed” that the previous attempt to submit the application was not successful but noted the company's dedication to making this application successful.
“Our desire is to make this work for the residents of Madison County,” Mitchell said. “We believe Comcast is the best ISP for this project.”
Mitchell noted that there was a glitch in the last application, which runs over 300 pages.
“We are fully engaged and moving forward,” Mitchell said.
Board attorney Mike Espy said that the submission portal has not yet opened but said they are not aware of any regulatory changes in the application process.