The Mississippi Senate approved a bill today which would expand connectivity and accessibility of reliable, high-speed Internet across the state. Senate Bill 2798 allows energy companies to lease “dark fiber,” or fiber deployed along power grids currently unused for mass internet connectivity, to any Internet Service Provider.
All revenue derived from leasing the fiber would reduce electric costs to ratepayers. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.
“Reaching the last mile down the last gravel road in every community is an education issue, an economic development issue, and a healthcare issue,” Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann said. “We can help change the trajectory of Mississippi by simply lighting up infrastructure which already exists throughout much of our state.”
Senator Joel Carter agreed: “A major driver for me in authoring this legislation is the next generation of Mississippi leaders. Increasing connectivity opens the rest of the world to our children. We saw the importance of Internet access grow during the pandemic, and it is only going to increase from here.”
The legislation is part of a series of efforts aimed at increasing broadband accessibility in Mississippi. Senate Bill 2559, also authored by Senator Carter and passed by the Senate today, allows the Public Service Commission to contract with federal agencies to provide a better map of broadband availability.
During the 2020 Legislative Session, the Legislature enacted a $75 million program to build out fiber and increase connectivity in the State using federal Coronavirus Relief Funds. Grant recipients, including electric cooperatives and others, matched the money for a total investment of $150 million.
To view Senate Bill 2798, visit http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2021/pdf/history/SB/SB2798.xml.
To view Senate Bill 2559, visit http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2021/pdf/history/SB/SB2559.xml.