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BATESVILLE – Senator Roger Wicker and Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr visited TVIfiber headquarters in Batesville last Thursday, meeting with TVIfiber CEO Brad Robison and CSpire’s Chris Champion.
Through the FCC’s reverse auction and bidding process, Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association (TVEPA) won over $20 million in funding on behalf of its subsidiary, Tallahatchie Valley Internet Services (TVIfiber) through the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF).
This initiative, funded by the FCC’s Universal Service Fund, is designed to partner with internet providers and invest in their efforts to bridge the digital divide and provide rural areas with high-speed internet service.
Commissioner Carr commented that over a year ago, he and Senator Wicker saw first-hand, the cutting-edge telemedicine initiatives that were happening here in Mississippi. They both acknowledged that to move these initiatives forward, rural areas must have a high-speed connection available.
Carr was proud to report that “we (FCC) have now planned and will deliver $500 million, just in the state of Mississippi, that’s going to build out high-speed connections to 220,000 homes and businesses.”
Robison explained how these funds will have a beneficial impact and how they will be used to fulfill the objectives of the FCC RDOF Grant Program. He also showed that rural electric
cooperatives can implement a broadband project with speed and efficiency as a result of this funding.
Robison and Chris Champion spoke of the relationship between TVIfiber and CSpire, and ways in which the two Mississippi-based companies can work together for the betterment of the state
Senator Wicker confirmed that this program is exciting news for rural America. He recalled how, years ago, the nation decided to engage in rural electrification through rural electric power associations to fill a need.
“Electric power associations across the nation made the difference in rural America,” he stated. Wicker also added that with the support from the RDOF program, “This is exciting news… this is job creation for America… this is work opportunities for young people… to stay where they want to stay… because this broadband connectivity will bring the world to places like Batesville, Mississippi.”
TVEPA’s efforts to provide world-class broadband and telephone service began in 2019 as it became Mississippi’s first electric cooperative to begin the process of bringing fiber to the home, through TVIfiber, for its nine-county service area. The RDOF funds will go towards advancing construction and operation efforts within the unserved and underserved areas within TVEPA’s rural service territory.
Robison thanked Senator Wicker and Commissioner Carr for their support of rural broadband and for providing a catalyst for internet providers to expand to even the most rural parts of Mississippi. “Senator Wicker, you have been a champion for this cause and your leadership has made a tremendous impact on bridging the digital divide in the State of Mississippi.”