Tombigbee Electric Power Association will bring internet services to some area counties

LEE COUNTY, Miss.(WCBI) – Tombigbee Electric Power Association announced a plan to begin a broadband network service.

Tombigbee is one of the first electric power associations in Mississippi to add internet services. The network will serve over 40,000 residents and businesses.

This was made possible through the Mississippi Electric Power Association Law and Broadband Enabling Act of 2019, which allows co-ops to provide broadband services.

“We begin to embark on bridging the digital divide and bringing rural Mississippi out of the digital dark,”said Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley.

Presley said adding broadband services will improve the quality of life for residents.

“During one of those meetings, you heard the story. I can’t connect to the outside world and I have to go to McDonald’s for my child to do homework, I have to go to the library to access something and print something off. We simply will not have a region that will flourish, grow, and or even be here if we don’t provide high-speed internet service,” said Presley.

Tombigbee Electric said it’s projected to cost around $95 million, mostly covering Lee and Itawamba counties.

“I feel like this is historic not only for education, not for telehealth, telemedicine, but also to improve the quality of life for our people. Our folks will be able to connect to the outside world and be able to live a modern life in rural Mississippi the same way folks in New York City live,” said Presley.

Tombigee will partner with Conexon for design and construction of the network.

The project will then go through four phases to be approved by the board of directors.

“We are confident that we can do this. It is a much-needed product for our citizens. It’s a big opportunity for us but I think it will be something that we would be proud of,” said board member Julius Palmer.

“We want to make sure we preserve our rural people, preserve our rural communities. By bringing high-speed fiber to the home internet service which is future-proof the best you can get, Tombigbee took a momentous step to save our rural communities but further the economic development quality of life right here in North Mississippi,” said Presley.

A start date for broadband services has not yet been decided.

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