Broadband in Mississippi has been the recipient of some massive grants funding further expansion across the state this year, with Governor Tate Reeves supporting the continued development through the creation of House Bill 1029.
On Wednesday afternoon, Reeves signed a bill that would create an office for the Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi (BEAM) Act within the Department of Finance and Administration.
Before the signing of the bill, Mississippi was the only state in the nation that did not have an office over broadband.
Now, the Office of Broadband Expansion and Accessibility will oversee “applications for projects to provide broadband service in unserved or underserved areas using the BEAM Fund.”
Reeves detailed that the new office is needed to reach every unreached corner of Mississippi, saying:
“This new office will give us a centralized, coordinated, and streamlined approach to bringing a variety of programs and efforts together under one roof.”
BEAM’s office is also expected to handle the distribution of federal and state funding given to expand broadband in Mississippi.
“There’s been a vast amount of money set aside towards broadband across our country. We’ve seen dollars moved quickly into this issue and we’ve seen dollars moved quickly into our state. Being a good steward of taxpayer dollars will always be one of our top priorities,” Reeves explained.
In addition to the creation of the office, Reeves appointed Executive Director of the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff Sally Doty to be the new director.
Doty thanked Reeves for the position and stated that her team is ready to bring high-speed broadband coverage to unreached areas in the state.
“To me, broadband expansion is opportunity,” Doty explained. “It’s opportunity for Mississippians to have better health outcomes through telehealth visits and monitoring. It is opportunities for higher educational attainment for our students… All of these opportunities are dependent on connectivity in today’s world and my team is ready to get to work.”
The bill goes into effect immediately as Doty takes steps into her new position as director.