NETTLETON, Miss. — Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley announced that the Public Service Commission yesterday unanimously approved the first in a series of filings with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the purpose of expanding cellular telephone coverage and high speed internet service in Mississippi.
The filings come in response to FCC requests for comments on coverage issues associated with its Mobility Fund and National Broadband Map. The FCC distributes funds for mobile and broadband assistance based on need, heightening the importance of accurate data on where such service is lacking. Presley says the current maps on file with the FCC show that Mississippi is almost entirely covered with high speed internet service which he says is inaccurate.
With today’s comments on the FCC’s Mobility Fund, Presley will alert the FCC to nearly 3,600 instances of deficient mobile coverage in Mississippi identified by Commission “Zap the Gap” data. Presley instituted the Zap the Gap program in 2009 in order to give rural wireless customers a means of reporting deficient coverage.
“State input from programs such as Zap the Gap gives the FCC critical data directly from customers on the ground, and the comments filed today emphasize that,” Presley said. “I want rural customers’ voices to be heard at the FCC.”
To push for universal broadband access, Presley is working with several state and federal agencies to correct the FCC’s National Broadband Map. Currently, the map vastly overstates broadband coverage in the state. While the map shows neighboring states with extensive unserved areas, Mississippi appears with nearly universal coverage. Without correction, Mississippi will miss out on significant federal assistance.
“Without this assistance, rural communities will continue to be left behind as small businesses, health care and emergency services will be left without necessary access to the internet,” Presley said.
“The maps the FCC have are just plain wrong. Their maps show that Mississippi is almost completely covered and that is certainly not the case. Getting this corrected is a top priority so that Mississippi can get its fair share of funding to cover these areas for residents and businesses.” Presley said.