Document: Missouri Broadband Investment Program Recipients
Some St. Martins residents will benefit from broadband internet upgrades announced by Gov. Mike Parson.
Sixteen broadband projects from eight providers will receive more than $3 million through the state’s Emergency Broadband Investment Program and connect almost 2,000 Missouri households.
Also among the grant recipients is Callabyte Technology at Callaway Electric Cooperative, where Parson made the announcement Tuesday.
Socket Telecom will construct a fiber network to the Meadowbrook neighborhood in St. Martins with the assistance of $15,840. The project will provide new access to nine households.
Socket will also construct a fiber network to St. Martins’ Verdant Lane neighborhood with the assistance of $31,828. The project will provide new access to 19 households.
“We’ve been fighting for years to get high-speed internet here, and now with these types of funds, we’re starting to see Socket, Co-Mo Connect and CenturyLink all showing more interest,” St. Martins City Administrator Doug Reece said Tuesday. “This year, I’ve had more calls about internet service and wanting to get faster speeds. We’ve talked with these companies about this for a long time, and it appears things are starting to pan out.”
Missouri’s Emergency Broadband Investment Program has been allocated up to $20 million to reimburse providers that have expanded or plan to connect residents in unserved or under-served areas with high-speed internet.
“It’s a start, and I’m glad to see it happen, and I hope we see more done in Cole County,” Cole County Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman said of the St. Martins projects. “I’ve had parents telling me how they’ve had to work from home, and their children had to do their classwork from home, and there were times they couldn’t get internet connections. Sometimes they had to drive and sit in parking lots of businesses to connect to their internet to get service.”
Parson told a crowd of state and local leaders Tuesday his two priorities for the state are infrastructure and workforce development, which he believes will help keep families in Missouri and ensure the state is competitive.
“When I talk about infrastructure — you know, when you first say that, you think highways, roads, bridges, airports and all that,” Parson said. “Broadband was just as critical, important piece of that for us to be able to compete, not only in Missouri with other businesses, but also with other businesses in the United States and, frankly, the world.”
With people across the state studying and working from home, expanding broadband has become even more of a priority.
Parson spoke of the importance of cooperatives in achieving that goal.
“Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of cable companies that are out there that are doing their jobs and everything, but if you’re really going to expand broadband, it will be the co-ops,” he said.
Callabyte Technology is receiving $138,000 to expand rural broadband access.
“During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, it became very apparent again, the need for high-speed broadband in people’s homes, people’s businesses and, quite honestly, it’s actually changing people’s lives,” Callaway Electric Cooperative CEO Tom Howard said.
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