Rural internet access issues highlighted by Marshall County residents

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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala.- In 2021, people living in rural parts of North Alabama are still fighting to gain internet access.

Marshall County resident Tracy Stewart says she’s been trying to get internet at her house for more than 15 years. She feels that providers are giving her the runaround because of where she lives.

“That’s just not right, this is 2021. You can’t get internet? If you can get a phone, you should be able to get internet,” says Tracy Stewart. “It’s just…this small little area right here where they seem to have a problem because there is not a lot of homes.”

She lives in a rural area of Marshall County between Arab and Guntersville. Several of her neighbors are dealing with the same issue.

News 19 reporter Madison Neal knocked on doors and spoke with neighbors who confirmed they face the same issue.

Stewart says she has contacted internet providers multiple times every year since she moved to the area in 2005. She says it’s frustrating because she is a loyal AT&T cell service customer. Stewart adds that she also does not have cable ran to her home.

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

She says now the internet is desperately needed in her home. Her 12 year old granddaughter is living with her and needs internet for online schooling. She has to use a mobile hotspot which is expensive and unreliable.

“We’re talking about a child’s school. Today we were trying to do her school work, 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 services in rural, underserved areas. Ivey said the pandemic reinforced what we already knew; that Alabama’s broadband coverage is an issue we must continue addressing.

“They said the last time it was surveyed out here was 2005. I was the one who called them in 2005. And they said we’re working on it just give us six months we’re working on it. Well it’s been 16 years,” says Stewart.

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