Data Dive: Revisiting Missouri’s Broadband status
Around this time last year, we took a close look at Missouri’s broadband ranking and the many ongoing efforts to deploy more high-speed internet across the state, particularly in rural areas. Missouri has since scored several big wins to improve broadband access.
- A new Office of Broadband Development was established within the Missouri Department of Economic Development, headed up by Broadband Development Director Tim Arbeiter, CEcD. Arbeiter and his team are forming an action plan for broadband deployment. They also are working with industry leaders and the federal government to update mapping of the state’s current broadband infrastructure. This will help avoid duplicative funding and overbuilding so providers can more accurately target unserved and underserved communities.
- In January, Gov. Mike Parson recommended a $5 million appropriation for a new Rural Broadband Development Fund, which would award grants to Missouri providers deploying broadband to rural areas. The legislature fully funded this item in the 2020 budget.
- Missouri will receive $22.4 million in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) funding over the next decade — the largest amount awarded in the recent FCC auction. According to an FCC press release, this will bring high-speed internet access to 13 counties and 7,400 rural homes and businesses in Missouri.
- A Midwest internet provider called Wisper won a similar auction last August. Over the next 10 years the FCC will award the company more than $176 million to deploy broadband in 65 Missouri counties.
- Many of Missouri’s telecommunication companies are in the middle of network buildout phases and continue to bring fast internet access to more communities.
Bear in mind that because most of these exciting announcements are relatively recent, they are not yet reflected on the Missouri Chamber Dashboard’s state ranking for broadband accessibility. The most recent FCC data available is from 2016, which ranked our state 42nd in the country with 16.5 percent of Missourians still waiting for high-speed internet access. Those numbers will no doubt improve with the release of the FCC’s next report. And although these new developments have yet to come to fruition, they paint an optimistic picture of a highly connected future for Missouri.
See the full dashboard at mochamber.com/dashboard.