Missouri broadband development gets $1.7B federal boost
Missouri among the states with lowest broadband access, surveys find
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOV) - Nearly 400,000 Missourians don’t have access to high-speed internet, but a state program called Connecting All Missourians aims to fix that.
On June 26, the Biden Administration announced a $42.45 billion allocation to expand broadband access across the country through its Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment or “BEAD” program.
Missouri will receive $1.7 billion of those funds based on the relative needs identified in the survey.
“There are a tremendous number of downsides for folks who don’t have the access to the internet that everybody deserves,” said the BEAD program’s director Evan Feinman. “With this program, we’re going to solve that problem.”
Missouri ranked near the bottom across the nation for access to high-speed internet, based on surveys from the Federal Communications Commission.
B.J. Tanksley is the director of Missouri’s Office of Broadband Development, which is leading the Connecting All Missourians project to expand broadband to every corner of the state.
“It won’t happen overnight,” Tanksley said. “But we’re gonna work hard to get it to those places, and this will really give us truly an unprecedented opportunity.”
Tanksley said the investment actually benefits more than just the state’s rural areas.
“We need to have every Missourian rolling as fast as possible, where businesses can pop up from anywhere and be competitive,” Tanksley said. “It’s good for our whole state that the whole state is as productive as possible.”
This broadband funding would not have happened without both political parties. Governor Mike Parson made a point to thank former Sen. Roy Blunt, who broke with Republicans to pass the infrastructure bill when he was in office.
Kansas City-area Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat, also supported the package, but all other Missouri delegates, including Republican Sen. Josh Hawley and Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush, voted against it.
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