Northern Mississippi has many rural areas with poor or no cell phone coverage, and the state could lose $84 million of federal funding for towers and small cell development as a result of errors in broadband coverage maps, Starkville Daily News reported.
In an effort to prevent the potential funding loss, Brandon Presley, Northern District Commissioner, is coordinating plans to test cell phone service across the northern part of the state with an app called FCC Speed Test. On October 18, Presley met with local agencies in Starkville to present his strategy. The results of the Speed Test study would pinpoint the areas with coverage issues, and this knowledge would help to secure funding for the specific towers and municipalities that need additional deployment.
Presley explained how poor service areas are a safety risk to the public. He said, “911 does you no good if you can’t dial it.” He also pointed out how the study will help individual cell phone users receive more reliable coverage.
According to Starkville Daily News, Brandon Presley believes local law enforcement and firefighters will be the best assistance with the study. He said, “They know where these areas are – where the gaps in service are, so having their help is really going to give us many more eyes and ears in both of these counties.”
Lowndes County Sheriff Mike Arledge and Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney were eager to cooperate with Presley. Gladney says his deputies know where the problem areas for coverage are, so overseeing the testing should be easy for them. Arledge’s deputies will handle the testing while they are out on calls, since they will already be driving all across the county.
The majority of the testing will be conducted by law enforcement, but residents have also been encouraged to participate. The app can be downloaded to any smartphone and each speed test only takes 10 seconds to perform. Presley said 1,310 residents have volunteered to help so far. The data from the study will need to be sent to the Mississippi Public Service Commission by November 15, which will pass it onto the FCC by November 26.
October 23, 2018