By Adam Jorde, Director of Government Affairs for NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association.
On a muggy August morning in Bay Springs, Mississippi, Joey Garner and Lisa Wigington of Telephone Electronics Corporation (TEC) graciously welcomed me to their headquarters. Appearing more like a construction site than a multi-generation telephone company, TEC is already two years into completely overhauling its network—a 100% fiber-to-the-home service in their Bay Springs territory.
Meanwhile, 215 miles northeast in Fulton, Mississippi, Christa Alexander, Wes Ellis, and Fail Telecommunications Corporation (FTC) were working on final plans for their fiber groundbreaking ceremony the following day. The event drew community members and local media, as well as distinguished public servants U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R─Miss.) and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
In what started as a simple idea to demonstrate the good work FTC is doing in rural Mississippi, Alexander and her team managed to bring two of our industry’s most prominent public officials to Fulton to witness the coming of a new broadband era for rural Mississippi. I was honored to help coordinate the groundbreaking and really enjoyed seeing it all go off without a hitch (even though my Norwegian roots didn’t care so much for the 95-degree heat!)
While the touring of both operations; chatting about work and life over southern fare; and watching Senator Wicker run a speed test yielding symmetrical broadband speeds of 950 Mbps were all highlights of my trip to Mississippi, what really inspired me was the dedication of these Main Street businesses to do right by their communities. TEC and FTC are pushing themselves to deploy fiber networks that will not only meet the broadband needs of today, but will stand the test of time for the capacity needs of tomorrow and generations to come.
NTCA’s small, community-based broadband providers continue to demonstrate to fellow Mississippians that they are up to the task of helping our country overcome the digital divide once and for all.