Missouri’s broadband development director said better internet connectivity and affordability go hand in hand. Director BJ Tanksley said in using federal and state dollars to improve connectivity, providers agree that having affordable service needs to be provided to a location.

“They understand that bringing a service to an area is one thing, but it only matters if the people there or the people that live there are able to engage,” said Tanksley. “You know, they need customers and as much as that household needs to have access to the internet, the provider also needs to have someone who can afford to pay for it.”

His department is working with a national nonprofit, EducationSuperHighway, which aims to close the digital divide for the 18 million households that have access to the internet but cannot afford to connect.

“There will be affordability standards to make sure,” Tanksley said. “You know, when the government is stepping in and bridging that gap to help bring service that the citizens are actually benefitting from it, and the area that then doesn’t have to overcome this connectivity gap that they’ve had for years.”

In addition to the Missouri Legislature approving over $260 million in January, the Biden Administration allocated over $1.7 billion in June to help expand and improve broadband internet access across Missouri. The federal funding is the third highest in the country.

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