(SAVANNAH,MO) According to the latest Broadband Progress Report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), approximately 20 percent of Missourians (1.25 million) don’t have access to high speed internet.
United Fiber Chief Development Officer Darren Farnan said internet access has become a necessity for many families and businesses in northwest Missouri.
"I think we all know now, based on how big a part broadband has become, how central it's become in all of our lives," Farnan said."We really look at it as another infrastructure needs no different than roads, water, those types of services.”
Missouri recently received over $250 million from the FCC to help local providers improve services in rural communities over the next decade. The money was divided using a reverse auction method, allowing smaller companies committed to providing quality service and take up the smallest portion of the FCC funds to serve the designated region.
In December United Fiber was awarded a $20million grant from Connect America to help expand internet access in more rural communities.
"When we have two and a half meters per mile, we really need that additional funding to help spur that growth. United will be investing as well, but this really helps kick that off and helps us get into those markets that are really tough to build,"Farnan said.
Farnan said United Fiber upgrades rural services in northwest Missouri from DLS to high speed internet (25mbps/3mbps).
"We are taking people from some of the lowest levels of broadband service in the state and we are taking them to the highest levels available anywhere in the country,"Farnan said.
But the partial government shutdown has forced the FCC to close its doors, delaying the payments to local providers.
"With the government shutdown now that has delayed that now just a little bit as far as getting our final funding notices,”Farnan said."This has delayed their ability to finalize a lot of these processes."
Funding for internet infrastructure expansion will continue when the FCC is fully funded. Tuesday marks the 25th day of the partial government shutdown.