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DE Lightspeed, the broadband subsidiary of the Delta Electric Power Association, has successfully leveraged government funding for the fiber broadband services that the company has deployed in rural Mississippi.

DE Lightspeed was created after Mississippi gave electric cooperatives the green light to enter the broadband market via subsidiaries as a means of improving broadband availability in the state.

The DE Lightspeed buildout had its genesis in a fiber broadband pilot project that was backed by funding from the CARES Act, which was passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was used to create a 416-mile FTTH network pilot project. Construction of that network began in August and was completed in November.

The pilot project resulted in additional funding from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) for the broader project, which is anticipated to cover 13 counties and 4,500 square miles during the coming decade. An interim goal is to reach 11,000 new locations during the next five years, including territories already served by broadband providers.

“The areas we are servicing truly represent ground zero for many of our neediest populations, who now have an opportunity to improve their quality of life simply by having access to essential services that so many others take for granted,” said David O’Bryan, general manager of Delta Electric Power Association.

Calix is providing various products and services to the initiative, including Calix Intelligent Access EDGE and Revenue EDGE.

DE Lightspeed is also offering managed Wi-Fi using Calix and said that service has exceeded expected take rates by more than 20% in just eight months.

The need to provide broadband to chronically underserved rural Mississippians has gotten attention during the past year or so. In addition to the ambitious DE Lightspeed project, the USDA’s ReConnect program has provided broadband funding in the state and C Spire has pursued a range of fiber broadband projects, many in rural areas of the state.

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