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Steps taken on broadband initiative

The Warren County Commissioners have taken a couple small steps toward implementing an ambitious broadband enhancement vision.

This week, the commissioners approved a letter in support of Youngsville TV’s efforts in an FCC reverse auction and appointed members to the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), which could serve as somewhat of a pass-through for the funding.

The idea was initially pitched last month.

According to the FCC, auctions have been used to “efficient(ly) distribute” funding for the expansion of broadband in “unserved” parts of the country.

Tom Mott with YoungsvilleTV explained at that meeting that vendors have the opportunity to bid on what is effectively a subsidy from the FCC for specific areas. The vendors commit to being able to meet the minimum broadband level — 25 mbps down and 3 mbps up — and the subsidy is dispersed over 10 years.

An authority would be created, in this case the Commissioners are resurrecting the IDA, to procure the financing while YTV would lease to purchase the fiber network from the authority and handle end-user service.

“We would look to (create) a public, private partnership,” he said. “Youngsville TV will enter the auction. The authority would then sign a contract with YTV.”

Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said during Wednesday’s meeting that initial applications for the auction is due this week and that the auction would take place this fall.

He said there is a “lot to line up between now and then.”

He explained the goal would include YTV taking ownership of dark fiber which, he said, was government subsidized years ago. But while the cable was run, the switch was never flipped.

“The current provider that put it up,” he isad, “has no intention of lighting it up.”

He told the rest of the board that the IDA was most recently utilized for a project at the Rouse Estate a couple years ago and put forward several names – Troy Clawson, County Planer Dan Glotz, Al Loranger, WCSD Superintendent Amy Stewart (with Matt Jones as alternate) and Diana Elmquist as new members with another pending.

Those appointments were subsequently approved.

Commissioner Jeff Eggleston said he wanted to “wish YoungsvilleTV luck in their reverse auction bid. (I) hope they can make good use of something that probably should have been done years ago.”

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