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Commerce Deputy Secretary Graves Joins Senator Wicker in Mississippi to Spotlight Historic Broadband Infrastructure Investments Coming to the State


$32.7 million in Funding for Broadband Infrastructure Projects Will Connect More Than 12,000 Households in Mississippi to High-Speed Internet

Today, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves joined Senator Roger Wicker in Jackson, Mississippi, to announce the details of a $32.7 million broadband infrastructure grant coming to the state to help close the digital divide and expand access to high-speed internet. They also connected with local carriers and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to emphasize the importance and expansion of future partnerships.

While speaking to members of the press at the Two Mississippi Museums, Deputy Secretary Graves and Sen. Wicker shared that these grants, provided by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), will fund 10 projects across rural Mississippi that will serve 12,487 underserved households, 256 businesses, and 26 anchor institutions that include schools and libraries. Graves and Wicker also emphasized that these grants will build upon the additional investments coming from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which sets out to achieve the ambitious goal of connecting all Americans to affordable, reliable high-speed internet by providing $65 billion to expand broadband, with at least $100 million coming to Mississippi.

“This award, along with additional investments from the President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help to close the digital divide in Mississippi and across the country,” said Deputy Secretary Don Graves. “In Mississippi, 23% of households do not have an internet subscription and nearly 18% of Mississippians live in areas with zero broadband infrastructure. With this grant, we are ensuring that all Americans can access affordable high-speed internet and participate in our modern economy.”

“This announcement is great news for Mississippi, and I’m glad to host Deputy Secretary Graves in Mississippi to show him the great work we’re doing to expand broadband access to all Mississippians,” said Sen. Wicker. “The Broadband Infrastructure Program is helping to connect thousands of homes, businesses, schools, and universities across Mississippi to high quality internet. I look forward to working with the Department of Commerce and agencies in Mississippi to expand broadband access to every unserved household in our state.”

During their visit to the Magnolia State, Deputy Secretary Graves and Sen. Wicker also toured a broadband fiber project in rural Madison County, which was one of the recipients of the recently announced NTIA grants. The project, led by the sixth-largest U.S. wireless carrier, C Spire, will serve 101 households and 32 businesses in the county. C Spire is constructing 10.7 miles of fiber and offering broadband service to residents for $80.

Following the grant announcement, Deputy Secretary Graves and Sen. Wicker participated in a roundtable with a number of Mississippi HBCUs, including Jackson State University, to spotlight the critical role HBCUs will play in helping to expand broadband equitably across the state and country.

“The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also provides $2.75 billion for the Digital Equity Act programs to address digital inclusion and equity. The importance of HBCUs in ensuring that these funds are spent in the communities that need them most cannot be overstated, as many HBCUs are located in communities with high populations of unserved and underserved persons,” remarked Deputy Secretary Graves. “At the same time, HBCUs produce nearly 20 percent of all Black college graduates and 25 percent of Black STEM graduates. This means that not only are HBCUs and their students on the front lines of these issues, but they are also the people our communities look to for leadership and guidance.”

Deputy Secretary Graves concluded his visit to Mississippi with a tour and roundtable discussion at Jackson State University’s E-Center. There, he met with Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, as well as local and technology company representatives to discuss the critical role institutions like the E-Center will play in achieving these goals while helping to uplift minority businesses by equipping them with the cybersecurity resources they need to succeed.

“The Jackson State E-Center, which is the largest state-of-the-art Cyber technology complex in the State dedicated to minority businesses, is perfectly situated to help minority-owned businesses recover from the pandemic and provide them with the cybersecurity resources and skills they need to maintain, protect, and grow their businesses.” Deputy Secretary Graves added. “The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, is equipped with deep technical expertise and long-standing relationships with cybersecurity stakeholders to support the E-Center in its endeavors and looks forward to continuing to partner with them to support the minority businesses and others.”