State leaders announced efforts Tuesday to expand broadband in underserved areas, including East Mississippi.
A total of $65 million has been awarded to 15 electrical cooperatives in the state as part of a competitive grant program for rural broadband, former State Sen. Sally Doty said in a news conference with Gov. Tate Reeves.
“There are barriers to far too many families,” Reeves said. “Everyone in Mississippi doesn’t have strong, positive internet access that they may need to get a good quality education while staying at home.”
The East Mississippi Electric Power Association was awarded a $5.4 million grant to fund high-speed Internet access to the southeast Lauderdale, northeast Clarke and west Kemper County areas of the EMEPA’s service area, according to a news release.
EMEPA will match the funds with $8.3 million, bringing the total of the cooperative’s phase one project to more than $13.7 million, the release said.
Doty said the installation of 2,765 miles of fiber was expected by the end of the year.
“These grant funds will make a tremendous impact on our ability to begin delivering high-speed fiber-to-the-home internet service to rural parts of east Mississippi,” EMEPA CEO Randy Carroll stated in the release. “This provides the initial seed to begin reaching our entire system.”
Dixie Electric Power Association announced in a news release that it was also approved to receive grant funding.
"Dixie Electric’s portion of the grant funding will cover approximately half of the $7.4 million pilot project to install fiber to facilitate the delivery of broadband service to one of the most unserved or underserved areas of the association’s service territory," the release said. "The pilot project area includes southeastern Jones County and northwestern Perry County and is a two-phase project."