JEFFERSON COUNTY, Neb. -- County governments are taking more control over the implementation of high speed internet in rural Nebraska. 

The state is continuing to maximize the usage of funds from the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment program which will use $400 million on giving Nebraskans high speed internet. 

According to Jefferson County Commissioner Mark Schoenrock, county commissioners are attempting to gain control of the process and put more control in the county government’s hands. 

“It basically is going to change the narrative from a process that had been controlled by internet service providers to a process that will be controlled by the county government,” Schoenrock said.

In Jefferson County, Schoenrock said the county wants to help those in rural areas of the county to gain high speed internet. 

“The process that we are interested in is maximizing the number of Nebraska citizens that will have access to high speed internet,” Schoenrock said.

The two internet service providers who will be working alongside county officials in Jefferson County are Windstream and Diode Communications. 

ISPs (Internet Service Providers) will standardize the specifications in all locations so all customers will get equal opportunity to specific internet speeds, regardless of location. 

Additionally, the ISPs will work together with county officials to minimize the chance of too many ISPs or too few ISPs in specific areas of the state.

“We’re also trying to minimize overlap. So if you got two companies going into the same area and you got an overlap of services,” Schoenrock said. “And we are also trying to minimize underlap. We don’t want to have people having it all over here and other people not having it. We’re trying to make sure everybody gets it.”

Throughout the process, ISPs will also try to increase the use of wireless technology, being able to provide and deploy high speed fiber optic cable.

Schoenrock said they are working on “nutrition levels”, which will list out the costs and speeds of internet packages, making it easier for customers to understand and purchase speeds through the ISPs.

This entire process of providing broadband internet to rural Nebraska, including Jefferson County, is being overseen mostly by the county governments compared to ISPs, which Schoenrock said is a big improvement. 

“That level of government is closest to the citizens. We know our counties far better than some offices in Lincoln or Washington,” Schoenrock said. “So if we have each county in charge of that process, we believe it is going to maximize the use of those resources.”

Schoenrock said high speed internet for those in Jefferson County can help students, those working from home and those with virtual medical appointments. 

A time line for the process will follow the Nebraska Association of County Officials meeting in Kearney in the middle of June.