COLUMBIA, Miss. (WDAM) - Mississippi Public Service Commission Chairman Dane Maxwell issued final documents to PearlComm LLC Monday.
Maxwell’s signature marks the allocation of $25.7 million from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.
The fund brings access to high-speed internet service to over 51,000 Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association members across 12 counties.
“It’s as big of a deal as providing power to them in 1938 when we were founded,” said Matthew Ware, Chief Executive Officer & General Manager of PRVEPA. “Now we’re giving them a new technology that I think will have the same implications to our membership as it did back then.”
PRVEPA officials say most of its members have not had access to high-speed internet.
“Majority of our membership live in rural areas and they are either underserved or not served at all when it comes to internet service,” Ware said.
According to Ware, the process of providing access to all of its service areas will take about four to five years. But, he says some members will see it as early as fall 2021.
“I think when we officially get that first member hooked up, that’s when we’ll all breathe a sigh of relief,” Ware said.
Maxwell says the pandemic brought the issue of the lack of high-speed internet access to the forefront.
“You’ll be able to do your telemed with your physicians, your school education distance learning, different businesses communicating from home,” Maxwell said.
But, it’s not just about member’s homes.
“It’s this whole array of things in the economic development world… it’s going to change the whole landscape of Mississippi,” Maxwell said.
According to Maxwell, this expansion is going to enhance many areas of Mississippi’s economic sector.
“Mainly residential and business look at high-speed internet… that’s part of the driver too that you’re going to see come out of this whole thing,” Maxwell said.
He says the state is already attracting different businesses.
“The people that I talk to every day who are mayors and council members and board of supervisors, they’re seeing an uptick in interest because they now know we’re putting high-speed internet everywhere,” Maxwell said.
Ware says the first members of PRVEPA receiving access have already been notified.