Good afternoon and welcome!
So, why hasn’t fiber broadband expansion happened here yet? Well, it has in parts of southeast Nebraska. But thanks to the Federal Communications Commission’s definition of what a ‘served’ area is, this can be pretty murky and internet service providers absolutely took advantage of this. Essentially, if a single house is served in a census block, then that entire area is considered served. You could have 20 houses in that census block, and one of those homes may have fiber internet so the criteria of a served area for government funds have been met even though 19 of those homes don’t have access and companies have no incentive to finish those buildouts, which is immensely frustrating.
That brings us up to now. The Nebraska Broadband Bridge Act (LB 388) is a bill passed by the Nebraska State Legislature to combat the digital divide that was exacerbated during the pandemic. Counties and communities around the state are leveraging their American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) Funds to maximize their expansion efforts. These funds were distributed to every municipality and county in the country and are intended for infrastructure updates including water, sewer, and broadband expansion, recovering lost revenue to help mitigate the impact COVID-19 had on our economy. In Nemaha County, we are trying to build out high-speed fiber to every home in the county, including farms. It’s going to take a lot of teamwork, but we are confident we’ll be able to do it. Pinpoint was awarded $1,000,000 in grant funding to build up Highway 75 to Otoe County, creating a redundancy network that limits potential outages. Additionally, they will build out Peru and most likely Julian.
Going forward, we are hoping to submit another application this year. Brownville is currently developing a plan to run fiber to town and offer public WiFi to the downtown area so that when there are loads of tourists (like the flea market) people will be able to have phone service.
It’s exciting to see everything come together, though there is more work to be done.