Public service commissioner approves funding for broadband expansion

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley has approved more than $9 million in federal funding that will help local electric co-op subsidiaries expand broadband service.

Nine local electric co-op subsidiaries will get grants to be spent in 2023 from the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. That fund was created for broadband expansion. This morning representatives from the nine electric co-ops took part in a re-designation ceremony that allows the funding to continue.

The nine carriers are currently providing service to more than 84,000 rural customers. The grants will help the co-ops reach more than 182,000 homes and businesses with broadband service.

“We’re completing county after county and geographic area after geographic area in a lightning warp speed when you think this law was passed in 2019 and we’re here in 2022 and six of the nine co-ops here today have completed their entire build out. Nobody thought that possible. And other carriers have had decades to serve broadband to communities, our co-ops stepped up, got it done quickly and I think this model is a model for the country,” said Presley.

“Without the support of the state of Mississippi, Brandon Presley’s, Public Service Commissioner, input is what helped the co-ops get to the state legislature and change the tide. We couldn’t have done it without them, we’re a big supporter of them and they’re a supporter of us and we continue to work with them on a daily basis,” said Randall Abel at NE Spark.

In all, the nine providers received $91.3 million which will be disbursed over 10 years.

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