Desoto County News

DeSoto becomes a more connected community 

Photo: Supervisors, BEAM Director Sally Doty, and representatives of the ISPs click buttons to symbolically change a county map to show unserved to now served areas with high-speed internet access. (Bob Bakken/

Sally Doty, Director of the Office of Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi (BEAM), was on hand to help make the announcement, along with members of the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors, and representatives of C Spire, AT&T and Uplink. Those are the three service providers who each have specific areas of the county they will be offering service to.  

BEAM Director Sally Doty speaks at the grant announcement. (Bob Bakken/

Doty said the state grant money is divided between the three providers, with the amount to each depending on the area they are serving.  It is actually part of federal ARPA money sent to the states with the requirement being that the funding be used for broadband. 

“It required investment by the community,” Doty said. “DeSoto County is leveraging some of their ARPA funds with the ARPA funds that came to the state to provide some of this.”

Gov. Tate Reeves earlier announced that programs in Mississippi had been approved for what is a total of close to $71 million grant funding for about 27,000 households in the 19 counties across the state that will be serviced.  

DeSoto County officials last month said 3,520 addresses were listed in contracts for the DeSoto County Broadband Connectivity Program (BCP) in January 2023 and as of June 17, 2,127 of those addresses had high-speed internet access.  New customers are being added and the county is on track for fiber internet by the end of the year for nearly everyone.

Doty said with the grant award being finalized, the work is being done and the providers will be reimbursed as the work is being done.  

Compared to other programs of similar types in Mississippi, the DeSoto County project is different because of how the county participated in planning and providing her office with the needed information.  

“It really showed a lot of work that’s been done throughout the years,” Doty said.  

In her remarks, Supervisors Board President Lee Caldwell noted broadband expansion has been an ongoing effort for the county since 2012. The ARPA funding and the addition of Community Resource Director Christie Barclay to take charge of identifying and mapping the unserved and underserved broadband areas helped kick start the program becoming reality.  

Michael Walker, Vice President for AT&T Mississippi, said providing broadband to such an expansive area is a daunting, challenging project.  

“You look at how large and how rural a county this is and the costs associated with providing broadband,” Walker said. “It’s quite an undertaking and no one can do it by themselves.”  

Toby Dubois, general manager for C Spire Home Fiber, noted that high-speed internet has become more a need than an elective option today.  

“There was a time when broadband was nice to have, when you had it you felt good,” Dubois said. “Those days are way beyond us now. You need considerable speed to be reliable and consistent throughout.”

Scott Litwiller, Chief Financial Officer for Uplink, also praised the supervisors for taking on the project. Uplink is the provider for the Walls area of DeSoto County, while AT&T and C Spire share specific other areas of the county.