FCC Expands High Speed Internet in Rural Areas

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TANEY COUNTY, Mo. — If you live or work in a rural area, you know how difficult it can be to get reliable internet.

The FCC addressed this issue with an auction that wrapped up last week — called “Connect America.”

The auction provides almost 2-billion-dollars to expand high speed internet to rural communities. 

The founder and president of a small broadband company in Taney County, called Taneynet, has a message for those in Washington doling out the big bucks…don’t forget the little guys.  

The funds will serve over 700,000 locations, but there were only 103 winning providers. But, Rodney Ballance, President of Taneynet says he was left out of the know.

“But the problem is, all the money is going to the big corporations and the answer is small companies like us with people who live in the communities, know the need and have the ability to help,” Ballance said.

Ballance is a former University Finance Instructor from North Carolina, who had his own National broadcast television and radio show — until moving to Taney County to be closer to his wife’s elderly parents.

“Got here..we barely had 1 megabit per second speed. Not enough to check email hardly, much less  transmit video,” said Ballance.

Republican Senator Roy Blunt says when it comes to internet access, “Missouri is a black hole.”

“Whether it is farming in the field, whether it is keeping up with commodity prices, whether it is your kids having equal access to information when they are doing their homework as someone who lives closer to the schoolhouse when they do their homework, there is no reason we can’t solve this,” Senator Blunt said.

“If Senator Blunt wants to make a difference in rural communities..tell him to contact companies like Taneynet,” said Ballance, “Companies that are in the communities. Not these large corporations that are paying the politicians millions of dollars for lobbying.”

However, there were smaller provider’s in Missouri that did get funding, such as Barry Electric Cooperative, Mercury Wireless, Air Link Rural Broadband, LLC and Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium. 

The bidding process was open for two years to any provider who had at least two years of experience providing a voice, broadband, and/or electric distribution or transmission service and submitted one year of audited financials. In addition they had to submit three years of audited financials with the short-form application and a letter of interest from an eligible bank willing to issue a letter of credit for a specified amount.  

That close to 2-billion-dollars generated from the FCC auction will be allocated to different internet providers in 45 states, over a period of 10-years. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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