Areas along the Gulf Coast are opening their arms to more high speed internet service.  Those residents who live along the Florida Panhandle are celebrating as the Florida Rural Broadband Alliance has received nearly $ 24 million in order to build a new high speed internet infrastructure.  Most of this money will go to an eight county region that has fallen behind in terms of broadband availability and affordability.

The region that will benefit from the money includes Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty and Washington counties.  The money headed toward these counties will not only go toward private citizens, but also to help benefit and improve education, public health and economic opportunities.  All of the money is part of the Recovery Acts Investments Stimulus Package signed into law several months ago. 

The Florida Rural Broadband Alliance is comprised of the Rural Areas of Critical Economic Concern.  Together, the RACECs in South Central Florida and in the Panhandle make up about 20% of the land in the state, but only 39% of the population in those counties has access to broadband.  However, this new broadband push will give these same residents broadband opportunities which they have not had before.  In addition, these areas will quickly be ushered into the 21st century and be able to compete on a worldwide scale.

Officials say the move is nothing other than a positive one for the region.  Many officials liken it the time when companies would search for a community to expand to with good roads or schools.  However, this day in age, those companies are looking for communities with broadband.  The current work will help put the Florida Panhandle in a position to be much more competitive for jobs and help the economy at the same time. 

One of the most important improvements that high speed broadband will help bring to the table is with the healthcare industry.  From now on doctors and patients can participate in telemedicine where they don’t have to be in the same room with each other in order to have a consultation.  In addition, doctors will have easier access to patient’s files and to get feedback from other specialists when need be.

In addition, businesses are going to be getting a boost from this middle mile infrastructure.  These funds will be used to connect individual businesses to the main line and do so at a cost which is affordable for all.  Now, businesses will be able to compete with others located not only in the United States, but around the world.  Businesses will also be able to see more of their competition as well as get better rates and equipment. 

Thanks to the millions of dollars, portions of north Florida are no longer going to be left out in the cold.  Instead, the whole region is on the verge of a whole new way of life and one that will open up numerous opportunities from economic to educational.  This work is going to better the lives of all the rural residents of north Florida.