Friday, May 29, 2020

Presley Works with Congress to Speed Up $940 Million for Broadband Deployment in Mississippi

Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley joined a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers and industry leaders in showing support for legislation accelerating the timeline to make federal dollars available for rural broadband deployment.

The Rural Broadband Acceleration Act (H.R.7022) is sponsored by U.S. House of Representatives Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) and Representative Fred Upton (R-Michigan). Currently, $16 Billion are expected to be awarded to projects across America in October as part of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) administered by the Federal Communications Commission.

The legislation also prioritizes projects that can begin within six months of receiving the funding and provide service within a year. It also gives preference to projects providing one-gigabit speeds.

“Nothing has exposed the cruel digital divide in America like COVID-19. The bill brought forward today by Representatives Clyburn and Upton and is supported by our Mississippi Congressmen, Trent Kelly (R) and Bennie Thompson (D), prioritizes faster installation of broadband services, cuts red tape and federal bureaucracy. The fact is that the funds from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund have been allocated long before the pandemic. These funds are sitting idle at the FCC at a time when Mississippians have their greatest need for broadband service. There is no reason to delay the disbursement of these funds. I am particularly thankful that Congressmen Kelly and Thompson support this bill because they understand it may mean up to $940 Million for Mississippi immediately. It is my sincerest hope that Mississippians can count on the support of Congressmen Palazzo and Guest and Senators Hyde-Smith and Wicker. Senator Wicker, in particular, has a vital role in this effort as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, with jurisdiction over the FCC. Mississippi is fortunate to have our senior senator in such an influential position.”

Commissioner Presley continued: “Anything that we, especially as officials elected by the people, can do to bring these resources to these communities, we should do so without delay. Anyone who is serious about bridging the digital divide should support this common sense legislation. This money is already appropriated, just waiting to be sent to communities that need it. Let’s get it there now.”