Mississippi to receive more than $495 million from Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, $5 million to Union County

December 11th, 2020     Featured Government & Politics

This week, Commissioner Brandon Presley announced that Mississippi has been awarded more than $495 million in the first round of the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. This funding is estimated to bring world-class, high-speed internet service to approximately 219,000 locations across Mississippi.

Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley

According to the Federal Communications Commission announcement, $5,089,618 is earmarked for Union County’s three winning bidders. That should provide high-speed internet access to 3,414 rural homes and businesses that’s don’t have such service available now. The time period for the addition is over the next 10 years so it was not stated how quickly work on service would begin. Also, several of the winning bidders won for multiple counties and other states as well.

The three services for Union County are Prospero Broadband Consortium, Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium and Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

Nearly all locations in Mississippi that were eligible for the auction will be receiving access to broadband with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps, with an overwhelming majority (82 percent) getting gigabit-speed broadband, according to the FCC.

“Today’s awarding of $495 million is a direct result of all of us as Mississippians making broadband access a top public priority,” said Commissioner Presley. “Rural communities and small towns deserve the same high-speed internet service as exists in big cities.”

Some broadband providers bid as part of RDOF as part of a consortium. Individual winners will come later as the Public Service Commission processes applications for each winning provider. Each winner must be approved by the Commission.

“I will do everything in my power to make sure that we expedite the regulatory process in Mississippi,” said Commissioner Presley. “We must make sure these funds are going to our communities as quickly as possible, but also make sure we are good stewards of these precious taxpayer dollars.”

This round of funding from RDOF is approximately $9.2 billion nationally, with a future second round of funding expected to be approximately $11 billion. Mississippi is the second largest recipient in America as part of this round of funding, just behind California.

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction is part of a broader effort by the FCC to close the digital divide in rural America.  In October 2020, the Commission adopted rules creating the 5G Fund for Rural America, which will distribute up to $9 billion over the next decade to bring 5G wireless broadband connectivity to rural America.

Below is a list of successful bidders, number of locations to be served and dollars awarded for Union and neighboring counties.

 

County Bidder Locations Support
Benton Prospero Broadband Consortium 1,079 $4,208,016
Benton Space Exploration Technologies Corp. 1,391 $2,153,674
  Benton, MS Total 2,470 $6,361,690
Lafayette RDOF USA Consortium 413 $465,762
Lafayette Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium 2,192 $6,498,042
Lafayette Space Exploration Technologies Corp. 4 $1,724
  Lafayette, MS Total 2,609 $6,965,528
Lee RDOF USA Consortium 15 $13,566
Lee Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium 3,180 $3,627,948
Lee Space Exploration Technologies Corp. 40 $28,056
  Lee, MS Total 3,235 $3,669,570
Marshall Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium 858 $2,020,722
Marshall Space Exploration Technologies Corp. 2,725 $2,049,929
  Marshall, MS Total 3,583 $4,070,651
Pontotoc ACT 925 $1,622,136
Pontotoc Commnet Wireless, LLC 222 $111,688
Pontotoc Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium 2,769 $5,000,970
Pontotoc Space Exploration Technologies Corp. 1,687 $1,136,040
  Pontotoc, MS Total 5,603 $7,870,834
Prentiss NRTC Phase I RDOF Consortium 353 $694,062
Prentiss RDOF USA Consortium 3,203 $6,789,585
Prentiss Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium 147 $240,366
Prentiss Space Exploration Technologies Corp. 1 $380
  Prentiss, MS Total 3,704 $7,724,393
Tippah Prospero Broadband Consortium 767 $1,761,978
Tippah Space Exploration Technologies Corp. 284 $312,310
  Tippah, MS Total 1,051 $2,074,288
Union Prospero Broadband Consortium 317 $796,356
Union Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium 2,337 $3,691,440
Union Space Exploration Technologies Corp. 760 $601,822
  Union, MS Total 3,414 $5,089,618
STATE TOTAL   218,990 $495,725,800

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From the Community

A Dunahue says:

Maybe you could do an investigative piece on why PEPA refused to go forward with broadband and passed up almost $10 Million in grant money.

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