$86M project nixed

Published 2:07 pm Friday, October 5, 2012

An $86 million South Central Alabama Broadband project has been terminated.

Dr. Aaron McCall, interim executive director of the South Central Alabama Broadband Commission, confirmed that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration had terminated the grant that had been awarded to Trillion Communication Corporation for the project, which was to span seven counties, including Butler and Lowndes counties.

Trillion Communications was awarded $59 million in grant money by the NTIA to fund the project. The remaining $27 million was to come from private investors.

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“We finally heard from NTIA and they terminated the Trillion grant and SCABC is trying to rescue the grant and have it re-granted to the SCABC,” McCall said.

McCall said that SCABC is also seeking private funds to continue with the project.

Ralph E. Brown, CEO of Trillion Communications said that his company was informed that the project was terminated due to limited non-federal matching funds, leaving no other alternative than to pull the plug on the project.

“We are indeed saddened by the decision of the federal government and especially for the people of Alabama’s Black Belt,” Brown said.

At a ground-breaking ceremony in October of 2011, officials with Trillion Communications said that by the end of 2013, the broadband network created by the project would connect approximately 15,000 homes and 800 institutions in Butler, Conecuh, Dallas, Escambia, Lowndes, Macon and Wilcox Counties.

Fred Guarino contributed to this report.