Broadband map could cost the state millions - - The News for South Mississippi

Broadband map could cost the state millions

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Getting an Internet connection in Mississippi, according to the Federal Communication Commission, should be easy.

However, when looking at the broadband map, showing coverage across the nation, Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said, when it comes to Mississippi, it's just all wrong.

"Mississippi sticks out like a sore thumb," said Presley who represents the Northern district.

That's because the map doesn't show the state is lacking broadband coverage, but rather that it has universal coverage.

"It looks like everybody in the state almost should be with broadband service and that's just not the facts," Presley said.

The fact Presley says, is that most of the rural areas in the state are severely lacking Internet access and it's caught the attention of the Public Service Commission. The three commissioners voted this week to begin filings with the FCC to change the map.

"High-speed Internet is just as important today to rural communities as power and paved roads were 60, 75 years ago," Presley said.

Presley said the error is because state maps submitted to the FCC included satellite and cable companies that are either no longer in business or inaccurate. If the map doesn't get fixed, Presley said the state will lose millions of federal dollars set aside to make sure folks living in under served rural areas are able to get online. Without access, Presley said Mississippi will be taking a back seat in economic development and education.

"We've got small businesses who can't market their product because they can't get on the Internet. So, this is a big issue. It's not just somebody wanting to be on Facebook, although that's important for people who want to stay connected. This is about economic development, it's about making sure that we stand up for rural communities," Presley said.

Presley said he hopes the coverage map will be fixed sometime next month.

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