TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – The state of Mississippi will get nearly half a billion dollars from the FCC to expand high speed broadband internet access in rural areas.
Mississippi’s award of 495 million dollars is the highest amount awarded to any state, except California. The money is made available to internet service providers in Mississippi through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase One auction.
“It’s a total game changer, we will look back, children will look back on the event that we were able to secure this much funding and will look at it the same way as when TVA turned electricity on,” said Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley.
Presley has been a vocal advocate for rural broadband expansion. He was instrumental in getting a state law changed that allows electric co operatives to offer high speed internet service to their customers.
Grants were awarded through a reverse auction. Providers competed for funding based on costs of infrastructure expansion and their ability to provide services.
“Coupled with what we are already doing in the state, I think this really, to use a county term, puts the pedal to the medal on broadband expansion,” Presley said.
Presley says getting the RDOF funds has been a team effort, by thousands of Mississippi residents who took part in internet speed tests for the FCC, along with regional,state and federal lawmakers, on both sides of the political aisle.
“I want to thank Lieutenant Governor, Delbert Hosemann, Speaker Gunn, members of House and Senate for working with us to get this done, want to thank Senator Roger Wicker who is chairman of commerce committee, and Congressman Bennie Thompson, from the Delta, both of whom, totally different political parties, but on the same team, and that team is to get Mississippi across the finish line,” he said.
Providers will now file paperwork with the FCC and will eventually go before the Public Service Commission, which will have oversight of the projects. Presley also says the PSC will make sure dollars for the broadband expansion projects are spent correctly.
Funding supports broadband infrastructure construction over a ten year period. It is estimated 435,000 rural Mississippians will get access to high speed broadband internet through the auction.
Website of source