PSC to bring broadband to parts of Spencer CountySeptember 10, 2018
By CANDY NEAL
The Federal Communications Commission is helping finance broadband improvements across the country.
Perry Spencer Communications will use the money it receives from the FCC to improve broadband speeds in Spencer County, including in Mariah Hill, Santa Claus and southeast of Dale.
PSC will receive a total of $1,182,425.70 over the next 10 years to make improvements at 359 locations as part of the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction. The areas are compiled into two blocks and are contiguous with areas the company already serves, said Jim Dauby, president and CEO of PSC.
One block includes part of Holiday Village in Santa Claus (the rest of the village already has service), Mariah Hill and a large portion of Spencer County that lies southeast of Dale. The second block includes areas on the east side of the county near the Ohio River, including Troy and New Boston.
“The government knew that rural America wasn’t getting high-speed broadband,” Dauby said. “The larger carriers, like AT&T and Frontier, were offered the funding as an incentive to build out broadband. So they could accept it or turn it down. If it was turned down, the area and funding were put into an auction. Whoever came in with the lowest price the government would accept was the winner.”
As part of the agreement, PSC must have its work done within the next six years. Forty percent of the work must be done by the end of the third year, and then 20 percent done each of the last three years. Dauby doesn’t think it will take PSC that long to complete the project.
And while the total cost to make the improvements is not yet completely known, Dauby knows that the FCC funding will not cover the entire cost.
“It’s expensive to do this work,” he said. “This is just a fraction of what it will cost. But any little bit helps.”
PSC will cover the rest of the cost to improve broadband in rural areas because the need is there, Dauby said. “Broad connection is so vital to everyone, homes, education, business,” he said. “There needs to be more attention given to this. And our state is doing that.”
PSC was one of six companies to win bids in Indiana, and one of 103 companies in the United States. The six in Indiana will receive $29 million to improve 24,530 locations in the state. In southern Indiana, Orange County REMC, located in Orleans, will receive $10,200,496.30 over 10 years to make improvements in 4,046 locations.
“Unserved and underserved rural areas in our state need high-speed, reliable Internet in order to keep Indiana’s economy thriving,” Lt. Suzanne Crouch said in a press release announcing the awards. “Collaboration between federal, state and local entities will bring Indiana communities to the Next Level and I anticipate we will be working on building upon this progress.”
PSC is installing fiber optic, which the company has done for about 75 percent of its co-op so far. PSC has also installed fiber optic in Huntingburg, Ferdinand, Santa Claus, Tell City and for businesses in Jasper, Dauby said.
“You don’t have to worry about the future demands on that network,” he said. “It’s a huge expense. But to meet future needs, we feel this is the best method.”
PSC must submit more information to the FCC before it starts working on the new areas. The company hopes to start work in mid-2019. How quickly the work is completed will depend on the FCC’s processing timeline, Dauby said.
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