Mississippi Public Service (MPS) Commissioner Brandon Presley has been ravenously working to make broadband more accessible across the state of Mississippi as schools are having to turn to virtual platforms due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have got a problem, and we have got to fix it,” Presley said. “The classrooms today are at home, and they’re probably going there for an extended period of time.”
While the Mississippi Legislature has been prioritizing the expansion of broadband, Presley believes the United States Congress possesses the funding but is hindering the process due to “pity politics on both sides.”
According to the longtime commissioner, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has in place a $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund that is intended to bring high-speed broadband services to rural homes and businesses, however, the FCC is choosing not to disburse that money.
“The rural digital opportunity fund which is 20.4 billion dollars nationwide was sitting at the FCC before we ever heard of Wuhan or COVID-19,” Presley said. “Now, I have been advocating—and the commission wrote a letter to Senator Wicker—that we accelerate that. That money is set to come out in late October, and it will push this development into next year.”
Presley categorized Senator Roger Wicker as “the most powerful man in American” regarding the issue of broadband as Wicker serves as the chairman of the Committee on Commerce.
“There’s no reason in the world to wait until October,” Presley said. “I would love for Senator Wicker to please put pressure on the FCC to get this money out or file a bill to make them do it.”
Of the $20.4 billion in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, Presley estimates the state of Mississippi could benefit from over $940 million for broadband access.
To watch the full interview with Presley on this morning’s episode of The Gallo Show, check out the video below.