Mississippi broadband program awarded $1.2B

Published 1:12 pm Monday, June 26, 2023

Mississippi has been awarded $1.2 billion to build broadband infrastructure.

The award is part of a $42.45 billion investment nationwide by the Department of Commerce for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. BEAD was established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The funds can be utilized for broadband deployment, mapping, and adoption projects.

“This massive investment in Mississippi’s internet infrastructure will be transformational for our state and help many Mississippians access the high-speed internet they deserve,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) “Investments like these are the exact reason I fought so hard to ensure the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law focused on the hard infrastructure that helps our economy grow. I am thrilled at this announcement, and I will continue working with our leadership to ensure that every dollar is put to work connecting all corners of the state.”

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Wicker was a key negotiator of the BIL and worked for years as the lead Republican on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee to ensure Mississippi’s lack of broadband coverage was accurately reflected in national coverage maps used to distribute federal funding for broadband.

Earlier maps released by the federal government showed much of Mississippi had internet access, despite the fact that many addresses shown as “covered” had no service options. Wicker fought to pass legislation that would require the FCC to update the maps with better data. That legislation was signed into law in 2020. The new maps are now the basis for broadband grant allocations, including the newly-awarded $1.2 billion.

BEAD is a federal grant program that aims to get all Americans online by funding partnerships between states or territories, communities, and stakeholders to build infrastructure and increase adoption of high-speed internet. BEAD prioritizes unserved locations with no internet access, or that only have limited access.

The BEAD program will be administered in Mississippi by the Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi office, headed by Sally Doty, of Brookhaven.