Federal funds key to broadband for over 330,000 people in MO | News

(KMAland) – Missouri ranks 34th in the country for broadband coverage and speed, with more than 330,000 residents without broadband access, but now agencies are hoping federal funds coming into the state will help.

Missouri should receive at least $ 100 million build broadband from the bipartite infrastructure law.

Paul Eisenstein, director of strategy and performance for the Missouri Department of Economic Development, said so much has been done online since the start of the pandemic, including work, school, telemedicine, hearings public and so on, it is important to ensure that technical assistance is available.

“On the adoption side, it’s really about digital literacy and making sure Missourians have the skills to really connect to our digital economy,” Eisenstein said.

The infrastructure funding came on top of the $ 400 million Governor Mike Parson had already planned to use from the American rescue plan for the development of broadband. More than a quarter of Missouri residents will also be eligible for a program that helps low-income households pay for the service.

According to the Pew Research Center, a little more 70% of people living in rural areas have broadband at home, and white adults are more likely to have access, and own a home desktop or laptop computer.

Eisenstein argued that it is especially important to secure funds for underserved areas of the state.

“You may also see efforts around cell phone towers, especially in areas where fiber-to-the-home may not be an option,” Eisenstein said. “It may be possible to build or renovate cell phone towers on public land so that wherever you are, where you work or where you live, you have access to high-quality internet. “

American ranks 27th in the world for high-speed Internet access, according to consulting firm Kepios, and “speedtest.net” ranks the United States 14th in the world for the speed of mobile and broadband connections.

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