International business magnate Elon Musk was one of the big winners in the federal auction to provide high speed broadband in rural Louisiana.
The auction allocated $342 million to provide highspeed internet to about 175,692 unserved Louisiana residents over the next 10 years.
But very few companies based in Louisiana were in the running for the allocations.
The Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction released its results Monday. The auction began in October.
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About 332,000 residents will receive the rural broadband once the contracts are finalized, which will take place sometime in January. Nearly all locations in Louisiana that were eligible for the auction will be receiving access to broadband with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps, with 82% getting gigabit-speed broadband, the FCC stated in a press release.
A 100 megabytes per second is enough run a home office or internet-based business. A gigabit per second is much faster.
A total of $9.2 billion was bid for service to 5.2 million locations nationwide.
“We structured this innovative and groundbreaking auction to prioritize bids for high-speed, low-latency services to deliver the best results for rural Americans,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a statement. “This auction was the Commission’s single largest step ever taken toward delivering digital opportunity to every American and is another key success in our ongoing commitment to universal service.”
In rural Louisiana people are spread out and providing internet connections isn’t cost-efficient for most companies. The federal grants were designed to help companies overcome the financial obstacles of connecting those people, businesses, and hospitals with high-speed internet.
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A dozen companies won bids to service Louisiana.
Northeast Louisiana Power Cooperative, based in Winnsboro, and Claiborne Electric Cooperative, based in Farmerville, grouped together to submit a broadband bid. But Mark Brown, chief executive officer Claiborne, said the bids got so low that they had to opt out.
Musk is the founder and chief designer of SpaceX, which is private concern providing transportation to space, and the chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., a company making high-end electric automobiles.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp., which Musk is listed as the director, will receive $26.6 million to provide high speed internet for 29,171 locations in 57 parishes, according to the FCC auction results.
Nationwide, Space Exploration received $885.5 million in bids for 642,925 location in 35 states, according to the FCC.
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The top two bid winners in Louisiana were Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium, which was qualified for $113.7 million of support to wire 53,245 locations in 22 parishes over the next decade, and Segnem Egere Consortium bid $142.4 million to wire up 52,430 locations in 22 parishes.
Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium was put together by Conexon LLC, a Kansas City-based firm that helps member rural electric co-ops expand into broadband. The consortium won billion in $1.1 bids for 628.,476 sites in 22 states nationwide, including Mississippi and Arkansas.
Providers must meet periodic buildout requirements that will require them to reach all assigned locations by the end of the sixth year. They are incentivized to build out to all locations as fast as possible.
It’s almost impossible for a business to operate in today’s digital age without a strong, reliable internet connection.