ANDERSON - Lauderdale County Commissioner Brad Holmes said the first call he got from a county resident when he was appointed to the commission in November 2016 was about the need for broadband and wireless internet.
Friday morning, Holmes, along with Commissioner Roger Garner, and state and local officials, stood outside an AT&T tower on Lauderdale 52 at Anderson, where it was announced "fixed wireless internet" is now available for the rural eastern part of the county.
"Seems kind of fitting that we are here today and I got that call a year ago," said Holmes, who along with Garner represents the eastern part of the county.
"I have relatives that live a quarter of a mile up on Lauderdale 52, and on one side of the road they have (broadband) access, the other side of the road doesn't," Holmes said. "This is going to mean so much to the residents of Anderson and Lexington."
Dave Hargrove, AT&T Alabama Regional director of external and legislative affairs, said cell towers will have fiber running to them, which will provide fixed wireless internet service. He said cell towers will feed the wireless internet to homes through outdoor antennas mounted to houses and businesses.
"The antennas will point at the cell site and communicate with the tower to receive the wireless feed," Hargrove said. "If you can see the tower, you can receive wireless internet."
Hargrove said customers will pay about $50 a month for the service. He said the feed from the cell towers should cover residents and businesses within a "3- to 5-mile radius."
"We're talking from Center Hill to the Tennessee line and all the way into Limestone County with the coverage area from the Lexington and Anderson towers," Holmes said.
Joey Phillips, fire chief at Anderson, said the cell tower in Anderson will cover about 2,400 households
"There's a lot of people here that don't have access to this kind of wireless internet. It's good to have it available," said Anderson Mayor Jimmy Glass.
Cleo Washington, a AT&T representative who works with state legislators on telecommunications, said AT&T is using funding from the FCC Connect American program to provide the wireless service.
He said there has been more than $1 billion spent in the last three years to bring wireless internet into rural areas.
"We are using the money to address the needs in our rural areas in an effort to bring them wireless internet," Washington said.
Garner said communications upgrades are something that the public is hungry for.
"It's a quality-of-life issue," Garner said. "Communications are more mobile in today's society, and people want to take advantage of that. This is going to allow people in the rural areas of eastern Lauderdale County to have access to that kind of mobile communications."
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