Rural residents petition lawmakers for help with broadband access

Residents petition for more broadband access

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Some Hinds County residents take their battle for broadband access to the government after they say internet providers aren’t listening.

Parents in the area feel their children are being placed at a disadvantage because they don’t have access to what’s become a basic need.

A petition, signed by hundreds of Pocahontas residents, is pleading with state lawmakers to help them get broadband access. It is something they deem essential in 2020, during this pandemic and in the world of virtual learning.

“It’s nearly impossible to complete their assignments and in the 21st century everything is virtual,” said Pocahontas resident Mary Venable.

She is the mother of three school aged children who have daily difficulties completing STEM homework.

The rural Hinds county area has no broadband and limited internet service.

“When we use cellular data we can only go to kinda one corner of our porch, and we all sort of sit out there and again it’s one at a time, and we’re struggling to just get that cellular data out in Pocahontas,” said Venable.

The Hinds County taxpayer is one of 300 people petitioning lawmakers to urge internet providers to expand the service.

State Representative Debra Hendricks Gibbs serves the Town of Pocahontas and Cynthia and is working with residents.

She said the legislature has allocated $200 million dollars to internet providers for rural communities.

“We have to put policies in place to work with those private internet service providers to encourage them to do what they need to do also to help work with us as policy makers to ensure that connectivity is provided,” said Hendricks Gibbs.

The District 72 representative is planning a virtual town hall meeting later in the month with the community, internet providers, legislative leadership and other government officials in hopes of expanding broadband to rural areas across the state.

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