Escambia County to invest $22 million in improving broadband

Escambia County may look to pivot from its current plan to build its own county-wide fiberoptic network and instead incentivize private sector development of high-speed internet in the north end of the county.

On Thursday, commissioners accepted a detailed plan from Magellan Advisors — a firm it paid $650,000 for the work — and scheduled to hear a presentation of the plan at their next Committee of the Whole meeting, as well as committing $10 million to fund broadband development north of 10 Mile Road.

Accepting the plan means the county doesn’t have any issues with the work Magellan Advisors did for the county. However, Commissioner Steven Barry expressed skepticism that the county needed to be the one to own the network as envisioned in Magellan’s plan.

A scene at the Jenkins Farm in Jay.

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The plan calls for building a county-owned fiberoptic network across the county connecting various public buildings and creating wireless nodes to deliver high-speed internet to residential customers. The county had set aside $22 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for the project.

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