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.
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.
|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||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|