HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Federal Trade Commission announced Monday more than $495 million has been allocated to expand broadband internet access to rural Mississippians through the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction.
The FCC estimates that an estimated 435,000 rural Mississippians will gain access to the high-speed broadband through the auction.
The grants were awarded through a reverse auction where providers competed for funds based on their ability to provide services and costs of infrastructure expansion.
A total of $495,725,799 was allocated to expand access to 218,990 unserved homes and businesses in the state over the next 10 years.
According to the FCC, nearly all locations in Mississippi that were eligible for the auction will receive access to broadband speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps while the majority, 82%, will get gigabit-speed broadband.
In all, the Phase I Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction allocated $9.2 billion to states across the nation.
“This historic auction is great news for the residents of so many rural Mississippi communities, who will get access to high-quality broadband service in areas that for too long have been on the wrong side of the digital divide,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a news release. “We structured this innovative and groundbreaking auction to prioritize bids for high-speed, low-latency services to deliver the best results for rural Americans, and the results show that this strategy worked. This auction was the Commission’s single largest step ever taken toward delivering digital opportunity to every American and is another key success in our ongoing commitment to universal service.”
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, who serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, praised the funding made available to internet service providers in Mississippi.
“This first round of funds from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will make an incredible difference in the state of Mississippi as we work toward connecting every person to reliable high-speed internet,” Wicker said in a news release. “There is much more work left to do, but this strong showing for our state’s internet providers is good news. I will continue working to improve internet access for all Mississippians and ensure the next phases of aid are awarded where they are most needed.”
According to Wicker, the amount allocated to Mississippi was higher than any other state except California.
Mississippi Public Service Commission Chairman Dane Maxwell thanked Wicker for his efforts in securing the funds for Mississippi as well as local providers who participated in the process.
“I’m very excited about this and what it means for our state,” Maxwell said in a news release. “The issue of highspeed internet is an issue that we have to face head-on during these unique times. I appreciate the leadership of the FCC Commissioners and for the opportunity to work closely with them to bring these funds home to Mississippi.”
In the Pine Belt alone, more than $51 million has been allocated to expand broadband access to more than 30,000 homes and businesses.
Below is a list of the number of homes to be served and total support for 10 years for Pine Belt counties:
- Covington County: $6,161,421 to support expansion to 4,946 homes and businesses.
- Forrest County: $3,921,291 to support expansion to 2,650 homes and businesses.
- Jasper County: $591,273 to support expansion to 658 homes and businesses.
- Jefferson Davis County: $4,234,854 to support expansion to 1,644 homes and businesses.
- Jones County: $5,642,409 to support expansion to 3,742 homes and businesses.
- Lamar County: $5,190,892 to support expansion to 4,034 homes and businesses.
- Marion County: $8,887,055 to support expansion to 6,670 homes and businesses.
- Perry County: $3,888,718 to support expansion to 2,325 homes and businesses.
- Wayne County: $12,538,382 to support expansion to 3,621 homes and businesses.
You can view a full list of allocations by county as well as winning bidders at www.fcc.gov.