Wednesday, September 21, 2016

PSC Announces $99 Million Dollars Available to Expand Rural Broadband Service

JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI- (September 20, 2016) – Today, the Mississippi Public Service Commission unanimously encouraged existing utilities, telecommunication companies, and entrepreneurs to take advantage of $99 million dollars being made available over the next ten years by the Federal Communications Commission’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction for expansion of rural broadband as released in FCC Public Notice DA 16-908 on August 10th. The Public Service Commission is tasked with certifying the eligibility of companies participating in the funding and assists in administering the fund from a state perspective.

The FCC has pinpointed 18,000 locations that can be found at https://www.fcc.gov/maps/caf-2-auction-preliminary-areas/ in its preliminary list and map that are eligible for these funds, most located in the most rural parts of Mississippi. The PSC is asking any business that is interested in the expansion of internet access to these locations to contact the PSC or the FCC. The date for applications relative to this funding opportunity will be announced later in the year, but the PSC is moving ahead to encourage full participation by those who are interested in providing service. The bidding criteria may be found in the FCC 16-64 Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released on May 26, 2016 (“Auction Order”). To aid in these efforts, the PSC promises to expedite the certification process for participation from the FCC 180-day eligible carrier designation timeframe by the PSC to 90 days. Furthermore, the PSC will work to help coordinate, where possible, with any willing public utilities to use existing infrastructure to possibly alleviate costs associated with expanding broadband service.


“Internet is the electricity of the 21st Century and we at the PSC are dedicated to expand broadband service to all parts of Mississippi, no matter the location. We don’t want to leave a single dollar on the table when we can use it to help the people of Mississippi, therefore we are cutting the turn-around time for a decision from the PSC in half for companies eager to help meet this goal” said Chairman Brandon Presley.

“Telecommunications is a necessity in 2016. The Commission welcomes the opportunity to work with eligible utilities to provide this valuable service,” said Central District Commissioner Cecil Brown.

“Internet service is an extremely important part of continuing the growth of our state,” Southern District Commissioner Sam Britton said. “We look forward to seeing expansion of service to as many people as possible.”

For more information about these funds and rural broadband service, contact Donna Chandler, Director of Telecommunications for the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff at (601) 961-5453 or donna.chandler@psc.state.ms.us. You may also contact Michael Douglas at (601) 961-5407 or Michael.douglas@psc.state.ms.us.