U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, commended the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) announcement that Missouri will receive $60.9 million through the ReConnect Pilot Program to expand rural broadband.
The FY2018 government funding bill included $600 million for the program, which targets areas that currently lack access to broadband and includes provisions that prevent overbuilding existing infrastructure.
“This investment will help strengthen economies and improve the quality of life in rural areas across the state,” said Blunt. “Bringing high speed internet to rural areas will help students succeed in the classroom, enhance economic opportunities for farmers and businesses, and improve health care in underserved communities. The investment announced today marks another important step toward ending the digital divide that has left about one-third of rural Missourians without access to broadband. I’ll continue working with local, state, and federal officials to ensure every community has access to high speed internet.”
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In 2019, a Missouri provider received $41.6 million through the program. With today’s announcement, Missouri providers will receive more than $100 million through the program.
The agriculture funding bills provided a total of $1.1 billion for the ReConnect Pilot Program. The 2018 Farm Bill made essential investments in rural America to expand access to high-speed broadband and improve infrastructure.
Following are the details of the awardees, according to USDA:
- Mid-States Services LLC will use a $3 million loan to provide unserved and underserved members in and around Trenton, Mo., with Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband services. This investment is expected to reach 566 households, a highway patrol office and an elementary school.
- Total Highspeed LLC will use a $20.1 million loan and a $20.1 million grant to build a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to improve broadband services to families and businesses in rural Greene County. This investment is expected to reach 8,683 households, 20 pre-subscribed farms, 15 pre-subscribed businesses, eight critical community facilities, 12 educational facilities and a health care center.
- Gascosage Electric Cooperative, serving Camden, Maries, Miller, Phelps and Pulaski counties, will use a $7 million loan and a $7 million grant to develop a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network for its most rural areas. The investment is expected to reach 20 pre-subscribed farms, 20 pre-subscribed businesses, 1,177 households and two fire protection districts.
- Green Hills Telephone Corporation will use a $2.6 million grant to expand its Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to rural areas in Caldwell and Livingston counties. This investment is expected to reach 20 pre-subscribed farms, 20 pre-subscribed businesses, 546 households, a fire protection district and two educational facilities.
Marshall Municipal Utilities will use a $575,000 loan and a $575,000 grant to provide high-quality internet access to rural areas of Saline County. By expanding its current service area, an additional 21 pre-subscribed farms, 18 pre-subscribed businesses, 763 households, a private school and a nursing home will have access to broadband.