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Meetings to focus on phone, web service

By Jebb Johnston jjohnston@dailycorinthian.com

The Mississippi Public Service Commission is launching task forces in area counties to help highlight deficiencies in cell phone and high-speed Internet service.

Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley will hold a series of public meetings across the region. More than 250 citizens have already volunteered to serve on the task forces, which will meet periodically to gather information, assist in identifying problem areas and collaborate with leaders on a solution.

The local meetings are:

• Alcorn County Courthouse -- Monday, Aug. 20, 5:30 p.m.

• Tishomingo County Courthouse -- Monday, Aug. 20, 7 p.m.

• Prentiss County Courthouse -- Monday, Aug. 13, 5:30 p.m.

Interested members of the public are encouraged to attend. Task force meetings will continue into 2019.

"Rural Mississippi has an infrastructure crisis in the lack of cellular telephone service and high-speed internet service," said Presley. "Mississippians are sick and tired of paying for a service that doesn't work or being told that providers have no intention of serving their areas. That is unacceptable to me, and through the help of these citizen task forces, we are going to highlight this problem and demand answers."

Task force members will help document the lack of cell phone service and data service by using a free smartphone app approved by the Federal Communications Commission.

Presley said the FCC inaccurately shows the state has adequate cell phone and data service in almost every county, jeopardizing millions in federal funding for cell towers in rural areas. The PSC aims to challenge the FCC maps through field tests with assistance from task force members.

Also, the task force will meet with leaders to look at what solutions exist to bring high-speed internet service to rural areas.

To become a task force member, contact the PSC at 800-637-7722.