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United Fiber to expand fiber internet to rural NW Missouri

Their effort to bring fiber internet to rural areas in need is being funded by the Federal Communications Commission.

Posted: Feb 3, 2021 8:32 PM
Updated: Feb 4, 2021 10:52 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) United Fiber is working to expand broadband internet to rural areas of Northwest Missouri thanks to funding from the Federal Communications Commission.

The co-op, which serves a large portion of the region, is planning to install fiber optic internet to many of the rural counties that currently struggle to find reliable connection.

"We have to be able to let people work and live where they want to work and live," Darren Farnan, chief development officer, United Fiber said. 

The effort is made possible by the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund through the FCC, that will provide $7.5 million to upgrade existing infrastructure to support fiber internet.

"We’re really excited that we’re going to be able to bring fiber further out into our network," Farnan said. 

The announcement is welcome news for those who live, work and go to school in these areas, especially during Covid-19. 

Rural schools like North Andrew R-VI are some of the key places in the areas that stand to benefit from widespread access to internet.

School superintendent Mark McDaniel said reaching students through virtual learning isn’t always a possibility due to unreliable internet connections in some spots.

"There are areas that do not have good connection," McDaniel said.  "You have to adjust to find a way to reach those kids and sometimes that’s packets and sometimes it’s the phone."

Farnan said schools aren’t the only ones that will likely benefit, he said fiber internet will also have a positive economic impact on rural communities overall.

"For business services, you really need the kind of speeds and capacity that fiber offers." Farnan said. 

Much like the power lines used to provide electricity, Farnan said internet reliability is just as important in the 21st century.

"Providing reliable and affordable broadband we feel like is now just as critical in the world we live in today."

United Fiber's coverage area includes areas from Smithville to the Iowa border line.

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A few areas of frost are possible this morning as temperatures have fallen into the mid 30s. Today temperatures will remain below average with highs in the upper 50s and lower 60s under mostly sunny skies. A few clouds will move back into the area tonight as temperatures dip down into the mid to lower 30s. Areas of frost will be possible again early Thursday morning. Conditions will stay relatively the same on Thursday with highs in the upper 50s under mostly sunny skies. Rain chances will move back into the area on Friday, mainly through the afternoon and evening keeping temperatures in the lower 50s. A few rain showers could linger through early Saturday morning before moving out of the area. Sunday looks to be a dry and mild day with temperatures remaining in the upper 50s. Temperatures will start to warm up on Monday with highs back in the low to mid 60s before a cold front moves through the area dropping temperatures back into the 50s on Tuesday.
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