Pine Belt Wireless receives $10 million grant

Published 4:00 pm Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pine Belt Wireless received a $10 million grant this week from the FCC to install new cell towers across rural areas of the Blackbelt, including Marengo County.

The grant will improve cell and data service in rural parts of Marengo, Choctaw, Dallas, Perry and Wilcox counties that currently have little to no service.

Pinebelt President John Nettles said 21 areas his company services lack data coverage. The grant will pay for improvements in 15 of those places.

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“We applied for it in 15 of our 21 areas without service,” he said, “and received the grant in all 15 that we applied for.”

Nettles added that with the grant come high obligations from the FCC, including having to establish a line of credit with a top-50 U.S. bank.

The new cell towers will be placed with the intention of helping people that live away from the main roads to get cell phone and data service.

“This is a game-changer for our company,” Nettles said. “For our customers, it means improved service and more service away from the main highways.”

Nettles said there are areas east of Thomaston and in the southwest corner of Marengo county that Pine Belt Wireless is specifically targeting.