Dixie Electric receives $22M for phase 3 rural broadband expansion
“Some of these places are going to have high-speed internet for the first time ever, and that’s really the goal.”
JONES COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - With 54% of Mississippi’s population living in rural areas, it can be difficult for underserved communities to access resources such as healthcare, transportation and the internet.
The Pine Belt, however, is moving forward to bring high-speed internet to anyone who wants or needs it.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman, Dane Maxwell, said that broadband not only benefits schools, homes and businesses but it encourages growth in rural areas. He also said he is excited to be back in Laurel, assisting Dixie Electric Power Association and DE Fastlink.
This year alone, DE Fastlink has connected more than 8,500 homes to high-speed internet.
“It’s been overwhelming,” said Dixie Electric General Manager Randy Smith. “It’s a lot of work and still a lot of work to go.”
On Wednesday, PSC presented Dixie Electric with $22 million to continue its efforts through DE Fastlink.
Maxwell said the internet is key to growth.
“We’ve been working on some economic development projects here,” said Maxwell. “One of the things with economic development is the requirement for high-speed internet. So, hopefully, we’ll take that and use that as a tool to expand some new businesses that want to come into the area.”
Around 12,000 homes and businesses are expected to pass the application process to get broadband to the area in the next phase of expansion.
“Most of what will happen next year in phase 3 will be the west side of Jones County, mostly the west and north sides of Jones County,” said Smith.
Phase 3 will be the final phase of broadband expansion.
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