Mississippi Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley preached his ongoing gospel of rural high speed bipartisan internet at the Starkville Rotary Club Monday.

Brandon Presley

Mississippi Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley speaks at the Starkville Rotary Club Monday. 

Presley has served three terms as public service commissioner, and is running unopposed for a fourth. He is a native of Nettleton. In his address, Presley discussed his plans for high speed internet in rural areas of the state. He compared the importance of high speed internet in the present day to the importance of electricity in the development of rural Mississippi in the 1930s.

“Alcorn County Electric Power Association was the first rural electric cooperative created in America, quickly followed by Pontotoc County, the second in America, the third being Prentiss County Electric,” Presley said.

He said he hoped the trend would continue, saying the service was a necessity in the current day and age.

“Mississippi gave birth to the idea that rural people will take their future into their own hands and bring about a technology and a way of life to their folks that otherwise they wouldn’t ever have gotten for decades,” Presley said. “They would’ve finally gotten electricity, but the world would have passed them by in the interim. Today we face the exact same challenge that we did in the 1930s, except it’s just a different technology with a different name.”

He said with new bipartisan statewide legislation signed by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, more electric cooperatives were adding high speed internet or looking into the possibility of doing so. The bill was the first Bryant signed in 2019.

“That bill opened up the opportunity for our rural electric cooperative to do today what they did in the 1930s, because if you think about it, what they did in the 1930s with electricity in those rural areas, what they really were doing from 30,000 feet up, they were improving the quality of life for their people. You no longer had to have a scrub board to wash clothes. You no longer had to have a well and tote water. You could have an electric pump,” Presley said.

For more on this story, read Tuesday's Starkville Daily News.

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