JACKSON, Miss. (WKRG) – Mississippi’s new broadband office is seeking public input on what internet service is available for individual homes and businesses.

A new website from the Office of Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi (BEAM) now records internet speeds and gathers information about internet usage and availability. 

This information will allow BEAM to create a unique and updated Mississippi Broadband Map that the office said is critical for expanding broadband infrastructure in the state.

Any Mississippian who lacks adequate internet service should visit www.broadbandms.com. Those with no internet may call or text “Internet” to 601-439-2535 to report a location with no service.

Mississippi’s portion of federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) will be determined by the number of unserved and underserved locations in the state. Currently, that number will be determined by the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Map, publicly released for the first time in November.

Over the next few months, BEAM will be using data collected from its website, along with other information, to challenge inaccuracies on the current federal map, which will be used in July 2023, to allocate funding among all 50 states. The federal map does not accurately reflect broadband access and availability in Mississippi, the office says.

“Our office has been compiling data and working with a mapping consultant to prepare for the release of the FCC map in November,” said Sally Doty, Director of BEAM. “We knew the initial map would not show a true picture of broadband service in Mississippi and our office is ready to engage in the challenge process so Mississippi will be fairly represented.”

The www.broadbandms.com website uses three separate methods to evaluate internet speeds and includes a short survey about internet usage. If a location has no service at all, users can indicate that on the website when accessed through cell service or while at a location that does have service. The website does not gather or disclose any personal information, the state says.

Less than 26 percent of homes in Greene County currently have access to broadband with at least 25 megabits per second speed, the 5th lowest accessibility rate in the state.

“High-speed broadband access lays the foundation for improving education, bolstering economic development, and increasing access to medical care for Mississippians,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “This is why it is critically important that accurate maps are produced which properly recognize existing coverage and any gaps across our state.”

BEAM is the lead office for expanding connectivity to unserved and underserved areas throughout Mississippi. The office was created by House Bill 1029 and signed into law by Reeves during the 2022 legislative session.

In an October call with internet service providers, BEAM also requested companies to provide them with contact information with company management to elevate service concerns and complaints it has received from Mississippians.

The office is planning to host community engagement meetings across the state to discuss high-speed internet access.