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Lafayette County Leaders Say ‘Yes’ to EPA Internet Options

By Alyssa Schnugg
News Editor
alyssa.schnugg@hottytoddy.com

A bill is being proposed during the upcoming MS Legislative Session to allow EPAs, like North East Power, to provide internet services.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors signed a resolution last week to show their support in a recent push by the Public Service Commission to allow electric power associations to provide internet services.

The resolution was requested by PSC Brandon Presley who has been asking for local governments’ support to change an old law that prevents EPAs from providing internet service.

According to the approved resolution, “ … the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors fully supports the EPA’s efforts to serve their customers with high-speed internet … and urges the Mississippi Legislature to pass legislation which will allow EPAs to provide high-speed internet serves to their members.”

Brandon Presley

In August, during a public meeting in Oxford, Presley said the lack of access to affordable, high-speed internet is “killing rural Mississippi.”

“We are 49th in the country for connectivity,” he said at the meeting. “Our state has lost population every year for the last three years. Is that solely because of the lack of high-speed internet? No, but it darn sure has played a major part. Having access to high-speed internet in an affordable manner separates the communities that are succeeding and communities falling behind.”

Several legislators have since voiced their support of legislation that will be introduced during the 2019 Legislative Session that will remove the old law that bans electrical cooperatives, like North East Mississippi Electric Power Association, from offering internet services.

A federal bill allocates $600 million for electric cooperatives and rural utilities to bring broadband to rural areas; however, Mississippi cannot receive any of those funds until EPAs can offer internet services.

If successful, the bill would only abolish the current law. All internet carriers would still be allowed to serve any rural community they choose. It would only now allow electrical cooperatives to offer the service.


 

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