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Federal COVID-19 funds to help expand broadband access in Central Mississippi

RIDGELAND — C Spire announced Monday it plans to install more than 33 miles of underground fiber infrastructure in unserved parts of Hinds, Madison, Amite and Pike counties, and will offer ultra-fast broadband internet access to consumers and businesses in those rural areas by the end of the year. 

In the announcement, the company said 20 miles of that project will include areas of Highway 27 between Utica and the Warren County line, and Highway 18 southwest of Raymond.

C Spire was one of 19 recipients of a total of $75 million in federal grant funds under the Mississippi Broadband COVID-19 program. The program is designed to help residents and businesses in unserved or underserved areas of the state get fast, reliable internet access in 2020. Each recipient is required to match 50 percent of the overall cost of their individual project.

“Our current public health crisis has shown that Mississippians are in critical need of fast, reliable, symmetric broadband internet service,” said C Spire CEO Hu Meena. “This program will help get more broadband in more places more quickly by relying on public-private partnerships to expand the availability of high-quality, symmetric internet access.”

The project along Highway 27 and Highway 18 will provide broadband internet access to 157 homes along the route. It comes with an estimated cost of $1.67 million.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in mid-March, the lives of many Mississippians have been dramatically altered, including working remotely from home, students transitioning to distance learning education models, businesses using e-commerce and online ordering, and medical professionals exploring creative solutions to serve patients via telehealth.

After installing the underground fiber broadband infrastructure, the company plans to start offering services, including Gigabit speed internet access for residents and businesses, by the end of December.