Rural Internet Access Problems Highlighted by Residents of Marshall County

MARSHALL COUNTY, Alabama – As of 2021, people in rural northern Alabama are still struggling to access the internet.

Marshall County resident Tracy Stewart says she’s been trying to get the internet at home for over 15 years. She feels that providers are pushing her around because of where she lives.

“It’s not fair, it’s 2021. Can’t access the internet? If you can get a phone, you should be able to access the Internet, ”says Tracy Stewart. “It’s just… this little area right here where they seem to have a problem because there aren’t many houses.”

She lives in a rural area of ​​Marshall County between Arab and Guntersville. Several of its neighbors are facing the same problem.

News 19 reporter Madison Neal knocked on doors and spoke to neighbors who confirmed they were facing the same issue.

Stewart says she’s contacted ISPs several times a year since moving to the area in 2005. She says it’s frustrating because she’s a loyal customer of AT&T cellular service. Stewart adds that she also doesn’t have a cable to her home.

“The girl I spoke to at AT&T was a supervisor. She told me that even if I had enough money to pay them to come here, they wouldn’t be used here, ”says Stewart.

She says that now the Internet is desperately needed in her home. Her 12 year old granddaughter lives with her and needs the internet for online education. She must use a mobile hotspot which is expensive and unreliable.

“We are talking about a child’s school. Today we were trying to do his schoolwork, and my phone wasn’t picking up a good enough signal, we couldn’t load the videos, ”says Stewart.

Earlier in 2021, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey awarded nearly $ 17 million to help provide broadband to rural and underserved areas. Ivey said the pandemic has reinforced what we already know; that Alabama’s broadband coverage is an issue we must continue to address.

“They said the last time he studied here was in 2005. I called them in 2005. And they said we were working on it, just give us six months to do it. to work. Well, it’s been 16 years, ”says Stewart.

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