STATEWIDE, Miss. (WTVA) -- Good news for Mississippi: broadband internet service will soon be available for people in the state thanks to funding from the Federal Communications Commission.
"This is the largest amount of money that’s ever been invested in our state,” Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said.
He said a spokesperson for the FCC made an announcement last week: the FCC will give $495 million from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to internet providers in the state so they can bring internet to those who don’t have a way to access the web, unless they visit places with public WIFI, such as McDonald’s.
“The need for internet service multiplied overnight because of COVID-19,” Presley said.
Presley explained rural areas needed internet access before the pandemic, but it multiplied as students began virtual learning.
Presley said Mississippi came in second in the nation to get the most money, behind only California, which is getting more than $600 million.
He added service providers already got a healthy start before this funding in places like Prentiss County where Spark has already hooked up more than 1,000 homes.
Going forward, Presley said one responsibility of his is watching the funds.
“Our job right now is to make sure we have the right rules in place for oversight, for accountability, to ensure that the money is, in fact, going where it is required to go, and is as fast a process as possible.”
He said 40% of the houses where the funding was made available must be finished within 3 years. He added the whole project must be completed within 6 years.