Newly elected as the Flagler County government’s chief of staff, Jorge Salinas is mobilizing efforts to bring reliable connectivity to his Florida community. “We’re going to come back to the board to recommend some funding for broadband through the American Rescue Act fund allocation,” Salinas told FlaglerLive, kicking off efforts to secure financial assistance for underserved West Flagler. Estimates suggest that 400 households currently lack adequate internet access.
Although neighboring communities have been connected via Charter Communications or Comcast, so far, neither has extended their reach into West Flagler. Salinas and his staff read through provisions of HB 1239 which makes grant money available for digital expansion, but excludes those funds being distributed to governments. Since broadband internet service providers have not deployed service to an unserved area, Flagler County government may qualify for an exception and receive direct aid.
Salinas plans to delve into different possible options, looking to extend service out from neighboring communities as one possibility, or gaining connectivity from above by engaging with SpaceX. “There’s providing the service and then there’s affordability of it,” said Salinas pondering different routes to connectivity, “and there is additional legislation coming down that would offset some of the costs for lower income folks through their part of the SNAP program and others.” While a SpaceX connection would solve problems involving connectivity to rural areas, the cost of connecting could be prohibitive.
“We’re going to be looking at potential help with the initial investment for the resident as a potential option, if the funds can be used for that,” said Salinas of SpaceX. “My understanding is that it’s between $300 and $400, the device to be able to receive the signal,” Commission Chairman Donald O’Brien said.