Mississippi Center for Justice’s Comments on BEAM’s Digital Skills and Accessibility Plan

Last week, the Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) submitted comments to the Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi (BEAM) on its Digital Skills & Accessibility Plan. MCJ’s comments advocate for BEAM to prioritize access and equity in addressing the broadband needs of the unserved, including Black, rural, and low-resourced communities, not high-income and well-resourced communities or internet service providers.

Since 2022, MCJ has stressed the importance of centering the needs of the unserved in Mississippi. We are concerned that BEAM continuously presents maps, charts, and plans that minimize the need for broadband infrastructure in communities like the Mississippi Delta and dismiss digital equity concerns for those regions. Time and time again, BEAM prioritizes internet companies over the communities most in need.

Since our last submission of comments, BEAM has submitted its Initial Proposal to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) with updates to incorporate community involvement in the grant process and set a price for its low-cost option. We appreciate that BEAM has included guidelines that respect the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grant program’s original intentions. We will continue to hold BEAM accountable to conduct a transparent and equitable BEAD grant process. We call on BEAM to adopt more strategies that prioritize ending the digital divide for all Mississippians and not for the privileged few. –Vangela M. Wade, MCJ’s president and CEO

To view MCJ’s comments, go to: https://mscenterforjustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/MCJ-Comments-to-Digital-Skills-and-Accessibility-Plan.pdf