Three Things You Need to Know About Missouri’s Broadband Expansion Plan
With the Biden Administration set to increase infrastructure development funding under the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA), many more Americans will be receiving access to broadband services. Missouri is a diverse state with a mix of rural and urban areas set to see great changes to internet access. Oftentimes, urban areas have limited access to the internet due to outdated technology that can’t keep up with today’s standards, while rural areas completely lack access.
As we have learned more about the world under the circumstances these past few years, the need for connectivity is critical when it comes to everyday living. Here’s what you need to know about what to expect in the coming years when it comes to broadband development.
1. A Wide Range of Programs Are Included Under the IIJA
On top of $265 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) set to implement broadband expansion, more money will come from the IIJA which has two programs in place. One of these programs is the Broadband Equality, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program which is the leading program of the infrastructure bill aimed to implement deployment and adoption programs and help with funding planning.
Not knowing how to use digital services is as good as having no access at all. The second project is the Digital Equality Act (DEA) which will provide digital literacy education to those who can then make the most of their broadband services and further close the digital divide.
2. Limitations of Deployment
Broadband deployment is expensive, largely due to geographical challenges and low-density population in rural areas. In order to reach every Missourian, it would cost approximately $2 billion which is not currently possible under the Missouri Broadband Grant Program’s $265 million set to improve expansion. Missouri has partnerships with providers and communities to help carry out broadband deployment, but there are conditions these partners must prove before accepting a grant from the state. One of the most important conditions is being able to uphold the agreement to make internet access affordable to the end-users. This helps the overall goal of making access affordable across all parts of the country.
3. Implementation and Plans for the Future
The ARPA funds have a redemption period that is required to be spent by 2026, but the reality of this timeframe is that this large-scale deployment is projected to be a long process. Missouri wants to make the most out of these funds allocated to the state, which means grant applications for providers and communities are set to open this July, with the hopes of starting these projects early next year.
While it may not be possible for every unit to receive access to broadband services, the current plans in place are set to dramatically increase the number of individuals receiving high-speed internet access and digital literacy information.
BHC provides broadband services that have helped connect communities to internet access across the country. Visit ibhc.com/service/utilities/ to learn more about our diverse service offerings and let our experts help bring connection to your community.