Where I live, high-speed internet means I get DSL service at a maximum whopping download speed of about 2.8 Mbps.
If it wasn’t for a restaurant nearby that needed that blazing speed, I’d be stuck with dialup.
My son would not be able to enjoy Fortnite at all. And work from home, when needed, would be all but impossible.
The DSL service is provided by a certain three-letter company that’s assured me I’m getting as good as it can get. Which is too bad.
I’ve got satellite TV, and satellite internet offers are pitched quite often. But I haven’t heard of any blazing endorsements. Besides, if it storms enough, I get the impression it will go out like my satellite TV.
But what if the power company that provides me electricity could provide me with high-speed internet service?
Just over the state line, Tombigbee Electric Cooperative in Jasper, Alabama – not to be confused with Tombigbee Electric Power Association in Tupelo – offers through its Freedom Fiber service 100 Mbps upload and download for $49.95 a month. And if you need even faster internet, how about 1 Gbps for $79.95 a month? TEC also offers HD phone service.
TEC serves a population base of 70,000 and a 1,000-square-mile service area. It’s putting 17,000 miles of fiber cable in the ground. The capital cost of this is expected to be $45 million.
Yes, that’s quite an investment. But TEC isn’t doing it all at once; instead, it’s taking it one chunk at a time, phasing it in. It took TEC about eight months to recoup the initial investment it made, and it’s taking that approach the rest of the way.
On Tuesday, the Mississippi Legislature convenes, and there’s apparently broad bipartisan support for a bill – the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act – that will supersede a 1942 law on the books that says electric power associations in the state can provide electricity only to its customers.
A coalition of partners including AARP, Mississippi Farm Bureau, Mississippi Association of Realtors, about half the state’s county board of supervisors and more than 70 cities are working to get the legislature to push the bill through.
Of course there will be heavy lobbying by some internet service providers.
Which is why if you like the idea of your power company potentially providing high-speed internet service to you, then you need to contact your local state representative and state senator to support the bill.
Now, not every electric power association will be willing or able to provide high-speed internet service to its customers. The cost may outweigh the benefits, and its up to each of the EPA board to figure it out. The bill doesn’t mandate that the EPAs provide the service, nor does it call for any funding.
But the bill does open the doors to greater possibilities, to connect rural Mississippi to the rest of the world. And it’s a nationwide issue, too. More than 90 percent of rural Americans lack home broadband access, in contrast to only 4 percent of their urban counterparts. Yet 69 percent of rural American use the internet, compared to 75 percent of urban residents.
Yes, it’s time to tackle this issue head-on.