Broadband Summit Opens Up Possibility of High-Speed Internet in Rural Areas

Broadband Summit Opens Up Possibility of High-Speed Internet in Rural Areas

HAMILTON, AL – Courtesy of WCBI

Last year, the Tombigbee Electric Cooperative began making high-speed internet available to some rural areas as part of a new program called “Freedom Fiber.”

“Fourteen miles east of the Mississippi line, some of the fastest internet speeds in the US at some of the cheapest prices are being offered, in some of the most rural parts of Alabama. If they can do it in Alabama, we can do it in Mississippi,” said Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley. This idea spurred Presley to hold a “Broadband Summit” at TEC’s offices in Hamilton, Alabama. The hope is that they will soon be able to make inroads towards making such services easily available to the people of Mississippi for a reasonable price.

While the results look promising, one hurdle that will need to be jumped is current Mississippi law, under which electric co-op’s are not allowed to provide internet service to rural areas, just power. They are hoping that the issue will be raised in earnest in the next legislative session: “That has to be changed by the legislature first and foremost and I think it will, beyond that we’ve got to sell the co-ops on it, it’s going to be a heavy investment on the co-ops,” said Rep. Steve Holland.

A federal initiative has set aside about $600 million in grants to fund infrastructure and other costs that will be required to expand high-speed internet to rural areas.

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