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State leaders focus on broadband expansion across Missouri

According to the Federal Communications Commission, more than 1.26 million Missourians do not have access to high-speed internet, that’s 20% of the population.

University of Missouri extension along with state leaders discussed Missouri’s are planning to have everyone in the state online by 2028. The main concern is for people in rural parts of the state.

Reagan Bluel, who lives in Monett, MO said, “Yes I’m a rural constituent however I think this is a state issue.”

Leaders from across Missouri gathered at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia today to talk about the challenges of the statewide initiative.

Marshall Stewart, the vice chancellor of Extension engagement for the University of Missouri said, “The issues not going to be solved by one strategy, it’s going to be lots of areas working together, everybody from electro-membership co-operatives to working with local providers, public and private entities that are in this space.”

According to the FCC, Missouri is 41st in the nation in broadband connection.

“It requires an extra layer of planning, for example, it sounds so silly but I can’t cook dinner because we have to run into town to finish homework,” Bluel said.

State leaders say the goal is to ensure access to broadband speeds of at least 25 megabits per second download and 3 megabits per second upload for 95% of households and businesses by 2025.

“The technology will not be a straight line, it’s going to be a leap in technology, coupled with investment, coupled with grass roots efforts of making this happen,” Stewart said. Missouri’s Broadband Plan, released in May, shows the state will take a comprehensive approach to broadband development in five strategic focus areas:

-Increase broadband data collection and utilization.

-Accelerate broadband infrastructure and access.

-Leverage partnerships to accelerate broadband efforts.

-Increase Broadband Adoption & Awareness.

-Promote Efficiencies and Opportunities in Broadband Development.

“There’s a lot of this that’s going to happen over time this did not happen overnight this has been a transformation technologically in this country – and what we want to do is ensure that Missourians have every advantage again economically, education and in health and one of the ways to do that is to have broadband access,” Stewart said.

Link to the University of Missouri Extension Broadband data:

Link to Missouri’s Broadband Plan:

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