New Albany and Union County people, who have long suffered chronically poor cellular telephone and high-speed internet service, can now do something about it. That’s what Mississippi Public Service Commission (MPSC) Chairman Brandon Presley told about 40 people Thursday night, August 9 at the courthouse.
Correcting the FCC’s untrue rural cell service data is critical
Presley was meeting for the first time with his Union County Task Force, part of a state-wide effort to improve rural (New Albany is considered rural) cell phone and internet service. Dropped calls, weak cell phone service or no service at all, slow cellular data connections — Presley says much of it is the result of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) having been given untrue information by the cellular telephone providers “servicing” Mississippi.
While the cell companies are about equally guilty of poor service throughout the state, Presley said Verizon may be the main culprit, because Verizon has given the FCC untrue data claiming they have good service throughout Mississippi. In fact the only information the FCC has on cellular service in Mississippi comes from the cell phone companies. And it’s wrong.
To correct this false information, the FCC has authorized the use of a free cell phone application that tests cell phone signals and records them, including exact geographic coordinates. Presley demonstrated how to download the free app during the meeting, and many people downloaded it then and there.
Task force members are asked to document areas where they experience insufficient, slow or non-existent cell service. The app records the phone’s exact location, performs an almost instantaneous speed test and stores the information. Information will periodically be downloaded to the MPSC.
Presley said the key to correcting the FCC’s information is to “document, document, document” using the FCC approved app. The MPSC will present the data to the FCC.
At stake is Mississippi’s share of millions of federal dollars already allocated to improve cell service in rural areas. Because of the false information at the FCC, Mississippi stands to lose that funding if the FCC’s information is not corrected by cell phone users.
The MPSC needs to have the signal strength information in hand within the next couple of months so it can be presented to the PSC. Information about downloading and using the free app follows.
More members are needed for documentation. Members must be officially registered for data to count: contct the MPSC at phone number below to register. View the attched PDF with the FCC app instructions.
Changing Mississippi law to improve high-speed internet service is critical
A federal fund of 600 million dollars is going to electric cooperatives and rural utilities to bring broadband services to rural areas in the US. (Again, New Albany is considered rural.)
Rural utility cooperatives across the nation are entering the marketplace to provide quality broadband service to their customers. This costs nothing to taxpayers, does not increase government size and does not block private enterprise. It does brings competition into the marketplace for under served areas.
In Mississippi, an antiquated state law prohibits co-ops from providing any services other than electricity. Nothing will change in rural Mississippi unless the legislature changes the current law.
Fixing poor or non-existent high-speed internet service will require action by the Mississippi legislature to repeal an antiquated 1942 state law. NAnewsweb.com will publish more information about that later in the year, but right now the push to get better cellular phone service is time critical.
Joining the Union County Connectivity Task Force
Presley reminds everyone that there is still time to join the state-wide task forces and help improve cell phone service and high-speed internet service. If you have a smart phone, contact the PSC for information on downloading and using the official FCC app. It is very simple. The PSC will email sign up information to you, which the FCC requires for authorization.
Contact your local legislators. Let them know you want the MS law preventing electric cooperatives from providing additional services to customers to be changed.
Anyone interested in serving on the Union County task force MUST BE REGISTERED, and should contact Commissioner Presley’s office at 1-800-637-7722.
PDF: Using the FCC speed documentation app: FCC speed test app 2
Providing broadband via rural utility cooperatives: http://www.djournal.com/news/mississippi-looks-to-bring-fiber-internet-to-rural-areas/article_e34a8495-168e-5ad2-8f56-51298a1b9f32.html
Mississippi Public Service Commission website: http://www.psc.state.ms.us/