New grant for rural broadband expansion in Missouri funded

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In Missouri, around 20% of all residents don’t have access to high speed internet, according to Governor Mike Parson.

Tuesday night, Parson said a grant has been funded to make it easier for organizations to bring rural broadband to Missouri.

The state legislature has budgeted $5,000,000 to help bring faster internet to rural Missouri.
Residents said slow internet impacts almost every aspect of their lives.

“We print large format graphics, billboards, backdrops, for schools, universities, banners,” said Independent’s Service Company customer service representative Ann Miller.

Miller said where she works, they deal with big files every day.

For many of her co-workers who live in places like Hannibal, they can access these files easily from home.

But Miller lives on a farm in rural Ralls County, where she says the plans are slow, and the options are limited.

“We can get satellite internet, but we get 20 gigabytes a month, but that could be used in a couple of days with everything being online now,” said Miller.

Commissioners in Ralls County said despite the fact that some residents still aren’t connected, they have some of the best rural broadband coverage in the state, which is why grants for continued expansion are important

“We’re one of only three [rural] counties in the state of Missouri that actually has wide [spread] broadband,” said Ralls County Western District Commissioner John Lake.

He said that’s been critical for businesses like his and others in Ralls County, and it’s important other counties in the region follow suite.

“We would want that for Marion county and all the other counties, Pike County, […] they don’t have [wide spread broadband], and they need to get it also,” said Lake.

For Miller, she hopes this grant fund makes connecting people like her more worthwhile to providers.

“It was not a good business move for them due to the cost of what it would take to put internet in the rural area,” said Miller.

The grant program matches up to 50 percent of the construction costs to expand broadband to unserved and underserved areas of the state. Applications are due January 7th, with funding coming next year.

For more information on the program, and the definition of the areas that qualify, click here.

Frank Healy

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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