Missouri hopes for millions in federal funding to expand broadband Internet access

Missouri hopes to request between $5 million and $30 million in federal funds and award the money to companies to bring broadband Internet access to unserved areas throughout the state.

The Missouri Department of Economic Development’s (DED) Office of Broadband Development has begun taking applications from providers of fixed broadband service for funding. Missouri’s DED will serve as a covered partnership as it will submit one application with multiple project areas throughout the state. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Infrastructure Program will be allocating $288 million to support providers in expanding infrastructure nationwide.

Tim Arbeiter, the director of Missouri’s Office of Broadband Development, previewed the NTIA’s program in May during a webinar with economic development leaders throughout the state. The deadline for applications is July 26.

“The opportunity to secure additional funding to continue broadband expansion efforts in Missouri is here,” Arbeiter said in a statement announcing the opening of the application process. “We consider connectivity an essential and vital part of Missourian’s lives, and this program will assist many of our citizens in gaining access to high-speed Internet.”

Areas eligible for the funding will be determined by census blocks in which broadband service is not available at one or more households or businesses. The NTIA made available a new public map showing where broadband was most needed.

Those eligible to apply for a DED grant are limited to:

  • Corporations, partnerships or limited liability companies registered in Missouri;
  • nonprofit organizations registered in Missouri that own and/or operate broadband networks;
  • political subdivisions of Missouri that own and/or operate broadband networks; and
  • rural electric cooperatives organized under chapter 394 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri and their broadband affiliates.

The grant can be used for the following costs:

  • Construction, improvement, and/or acquisition of facilities and telecommunications equipment required to provide qualifying broadband service, including infrastructure for backhaul, middle and last-mile networks;
  • Long-term leases (for terms greater than one year) of facilities required to provide qualifying broadband service, including indefeasible right-of- use (IRU) agreements;
  • Engineering design, permitting and work related to environmental, historical and cultural reviews;
  • Reasonable pre-application expenses.

Gov. Mike Parson said the availability of broadband is as fundamental as electricity.

“It is our time to make sure every Missouri citizen has the ability to get on the Internet,” Parson said in May before a ribbon-cutting ceremony for installation of fiber-optic network in St. Charles. “If you can put lights in everybody house, you can put broadband in everybody’s house and everybody should have the same, even playing field. That is a top priority of mine as governor and I will continue to back that with resources.”

This article was originally posted on Missouri hopes for millions in federal funding to expand broadband Internet access

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