Hayneville Telephone Company awarded a $25 million grant to fund broadband service for Lowndes County residents – Lowndes Signal

The Hayneville Telephone Company awarded a $25 million grant to fund broadband service for Lowndes County residents

Published Wednesday, November 2, 2022 at 6:00 p.m

The US Department of Agriculture announced it would award $25 million Hayneville Telephone Company via the Rural Utilities Services ReConnect program on Oct 27

Hayneville Telephone will use grant funds to build 279 miles of fiber optic cable over approximately 216 square miles and expand broadband service of up to 1GB over a fiber-to-the-premises network to 4,646 residents throughout most of Lowndes County.

“Fiber to the Home is like the Cadillac version of Internet services,” said Evelyn Causey, President of Hayneville Telephone. “We have connections to the internet that are hardened and fast and as weatherproof as possible. This program was created to help citizens in rural areas use fiber optic internet services.”

According to Causey, the possibilities of fiber optics are limitless and can meet all the needs of homes and businesses. Users can simultaneously stream video, upload data and images, work from home or go to school remotely, she added.

Michelle Peel’s family were among the first to purchase Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Internet service through Hayneville Telephone in the 1990s. And Peel, who worked intermittently from home during office closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, said teleworking is nearly impossible with DSL.

“It’s difficult to video conference on our Internet,” Peel explained. “We have to wait for the call to buffer, and it’s almost impossible to be in two meetings at the same time. Fiber will allow us to easily work from home when needed.”

The utility will invest the grant funds directly over a period of 5 years. Construction is scheduled to begin later in 2023.

Once built, fiber optic Internet plans start at about $59 per month, and eligible households can apply to receive a rebate of up to $30 per month through the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program.

“We have already completed six ADECA (Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs) projects in our area,” Causey said. This will be another addition to the things we have done for [nearly] 80 years to bring services to rural areas.”

Hayneville is a private, family-run utility that began operations in 1946 when Howard and Jessie Powell bought the Sutherland family home after a fire destroyed their own home.

The telephone company, consisting of a living room switchboard and 50 customers, came home and still operates in the same structure today.

“So we’ve been around for 76 years,” Causey muses. “My grandfather tried to sell the AT&T company in the late 1940’s and then offered to give it to them. But AT&T didn’t want to serve rural Alabama, so they kept saying no.”

Since then, Causey’s family has run the telephone company. Her grandmother’s house still houses the business office and all operations.

“My grandfather, who ran a successful dairy farm, didn’t want to hear about it,” Causey recalls. “But my grandmother loved the house, so she went and bought it. When he came home from work, she said, ‘I found us an apartment, but you have to run this phone company.’ And that’s how they started.”

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