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PSC Commissioner Brent Bailey announces millions for broadband expansion

Central District Public Service Commissioner Brent Bailey announced the final approval for federal funds to Belzoni Cable, LLC to support the deployment of high-speed internet service to customers in Humphreys and Sharkey Counties.

Image courtesy of the Office of Central District Public Service Commissioner Brent Bailey

Commissioner Bailey gathered with owners Danny Jones and Stephen Donovan of Belzoni Cable for a ceremony Monday to issue the final documents and approval to Belzoni Cable, LLC for the release of $6,697,849 from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I Auction.  Belzoni Cable, LLC is now approved as a designated eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) and in time will deploy high-speed internet service to 1,482 rural homes and small businesses who are unserved or underserved.

“Mississippians who lack access to broadband or cannot afford a home broadband connection are unable to participate in telehealth, virtual learning, telework and many other activities which in turn slows down the growth our economies in our rural communities,” Commissioner Bailey said. “This latest round of federal funding is a critical part of statewide efforts now underway to bring affordable internet access to families and communities across Mississippi.  I am thrilled these 1,400+ homes will soon have the option of being on the other side of the digital divide.”

Belzoni Cable’s Danny Jones and Stephen Donovan together state, “We are grateful for the opportunity to expand broadband internet service to the underserved communities within Humphreys and Sharkey Counties.  This federal funding will provide great opportunities for growth and advancement for the citizens of these valued communities.  We look forward to what the future holds as we grow and expand our broadband offerings.”

Bailey also announced the final approval for federal funds to Aristotle Unified Communications LLC and Windstream Communications LLC to support the deployment of high-speed internet service to customers across six counties in the Central District.

The Commission conducted a special open meeting on Thursday.  Following a unanimous vote by the Commission, Windstream Communications, LLC was approved to receive funds through the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase 1 Auction.  Aristotle Unified Communications, LLC was approved by the Commission at a later date.

Within the Central District, Aristotle Unified Communications will receive $1,484,976.08 to distribute to 4,347 locations in three counties- Issaquena, Sharkey and Yazoo. Windstream Communications will receive a total of $9,426,300 with some of those funds covering costs to provide service in Copiah, Hinds and Rankin counties, which are also located within the Central District.

“I am excited to join my fellow Commissioners in closing the broadband divide we have had for too long across much of rural Mississippi,” Commissioner Bailey said.  “With these funds, these companies will have the ability to provide reliable, good quality service at just, reasonable and affordable rates for those who are unserved or underserved.  I am thrilled to be a part of the enormous steps we as a Commission have been taking over the last year with the common goal of bringing connectivity to all Mississippians.”

Overall, Mississippi had a total of 24 winning bidders of RDOF funds who will potentially receive a collective total of $495,725,799.60.  Mississippi received the second highest amount of funds in the country, following California.  More information on the RDOF Phase I auction is available at https://www.fcc.gov/auction/904, including complete auction results and a map of winning bids.

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