“We live in the middle of nowhere and have bad service. We can’t get any internet strong enough to do anything at home,” said the vast majority of people in Mississippi.
When the pandemic first started, Mississippi could no longer overlook a major problem: lack of broadband in the state. All across the state, parents scrambled to figure out how their children would complete school work with the new distance learning; adults with little or no internet service struggled to find a way to successfully work from home. Thankfully, Mississippi is working to correct the broadband shortage in the state.
“I’m very excited about this and what it means for our state,” said Chairman Dane Maxwell from the Mississippi Public Service Commission Southern District. “The issue of high speed internet is an issue that we have to face head-on during these unique times. I appreciate the leadership of the FCC Commissioners and for the opportunity to work closely with them to bring these funds home to Mississippi.”
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) conducted a Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction and has awarded Mississippi with $495,725,799.60 for broadband expansion in Phase I of the auction. The auction was designed to deliver high-speed internet services to rural areas across the state.
It should expand broadband to 218,990 un-served homes and businesses over the next 10 years. Most of the locations that were eligible should be receiving access to internet with at least 100/20 Mbps, with a majority getting giga-bit broadband.
“This historic auction is great news for the residents of so many rural Mississippi communities, who will get access to high-quality broadband service in areas that for too long have been on the wrong side of the digital divide,” stated FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “We structured this innovative and groundbreaking auction to prioritize bids for high-speed, low-latency services to deliver the best results for rural Americans, and the results show that this strategy worked. This auction was the Commission’s single largest step ever taken toward delivering digital opportunity to every American and is another key success in our ongoing commitment to universal service.”
For Clarke County, the winning bidders were Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Together, they will cover a total of 3,520 homes and businesses with $10,634,402.
In the upcoming months, Chairman Dane Maxwell will continue to meet with the Federal Communications Commission to work on additional funds for Mississippi in the Phase II auction.