HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - House Bill 366 passed in the state Senate Wednesday and is now awaiting the governor’s approval...it’s a bill that would allow electric cooperatives to provide broadband internet service to rural customers.
"This is something that has been talked about for a while,” said Kurt Brautigam, Spokesman, Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association.
Rural MS residents might be able to get high-speed internet in the future...by means of House Bill 366.
“All this bill does is authorize the electric cooperatives to consider moving into the arena, offering broadband services in their particular areas because we’ve already got a presence there,” Brautigam explained.
Kurt Brautigam with the Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association said the bill is a good idea, but a costly one.
"When you start to try to run fiber-optic cable across, in our case, 6,000 miles of electric poles, you start to add up the costs of that kind of a network extremely quickly,” said Brautigam.
Brautigam said Pearl River Valley will remain optimistic about the future of the bill and what it holds in store for electric co-ops.
"We will look at other opportunities as they come along. If there were some partnerships or other options that would be available, we would be able to look at those,” mentioned Brautigam.
Dixie Electric Power Association sent a statement saying in part, the co-op looks forward to the governor signing the bill, but it's a complex issue with costs and could take time. It asks that members remain patient as it studies the feasibility of offering broadband.
Coast Electric also sent a statement saying in part, it will do a feasibility study to determine if offering broadband is beneficial to its members and make sure it does what is in the best interest of members.
There are 26 electric cooperatives serving over 700 thousand meters in the state of Mississippi.