Another $57 million in federal stimulus funds is coming to entities in the state working on expanding broadband internet access in rural areas.
Entities in Missouri have now received 192 million federal stimulus dollars for rural broadband efforts. The largest in this round is a project by Sho-Me Technologies to build a “middle mile network” that will reach 30 counties and more than 260,000 households.
“Middle mile is in essence the superhighway. It’s the backbone, it touches all of those counties. What it does is go to anchor institutions in those counties. For example, we are here in the Justice Center in Versailles, which will be one of those anchors. So what you’ll have is that superhighway running right past where you are,” Governor Nixon said while speaking to reporters on a conference call.
Nixon says the other two projects in this round of federal investments are one for a ‘last mile’ network in Cass County and efforts by the Department of Higher Education to increase high speed internet connectivity at community colleges.
Nixon says these projects have been spread out across the state well as they keep rolling in, but that there’s still need for more work in Southeast Missouri, in particular.
“As far as leaving out there, where we are, we still have applications pending. One of those is Called Boycom, and that is for a little more significant coverage in Southeast Missouri to tie in some of this larger capacity. So we are continuing to compete for that one,” Nixon said.
Nixon says the companies will create these networks without much stress on local entities.
“It’s not going to require those local governments or local folks to come up with those dollars. That is what that does, this will provide ready and clear access. That what they call ‘last mile,’ or the exact hook up will be something that local companies, local individuals will have to do,” Nixon said.
But Nixon says these projects very commonly attract investment from private companies quickly as they look to capitalize on the commercial uses for the service.
Nixon says the state has seen more success in the later rounds of competing for these grants, adapting its process for applying after being overlooked when the funds started going out originally.