An Anniston nonprofit that made high-speed Internet access possible for city schools wants to charge area businesses for the same service to fund more technology initiatives for local students.
Anniston Fiber Optics, a nonprofit created in 2008 to provide broadband high-speed Internet access to Anniston schools, has hired Birmingham-based Slappey Communications to manage and expand its network. Through the partnership, the nonprofit wants to lease some of its fiber optic cable to local businesses for high-speed Internet and use the revenue to pay for new technology to improve educational opportunities for Anniston public school students.
“We plan to expand the system and offer additional services … someone leases the fiber from us and then all that money goes back into the school system,” said Donald Stewart, a local attorney and founder of the Stewart Family Foundation, which created Anniston Fiber Optics.
Anniston Fiber Optics initially received $1.2 million from state grants, including the Alabama Department of Education, and money from the Stewart Family Foundation to install the 25 miles of fiber optic cable. The cable provides high-speed broadband Internet to all Anniston schools, Gadsden State Community College’s Ayers and McClellan campuses and the Calhoun County Technical School. The cable is also connected to the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office and the Coosa Valley Juvenile Services complex.