Working to Provide High-Speed Internet to All Missourians
In today’s digital age, access to high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity. From businesses growing through internet sales to our schools offering new and challenging online courses, access to high-speed internet plays a vital role in the growth of our state. According to the Federal Communications Commission, more than 1.2 million Missourians don’t have access to high-speed internet, and a majority of those individuals reside in our rural communities. However, the process of bringing high-speed internet to our rural communities isn’t simple, it requires significant investment to improve existing infrastructure. The General Assembly must pass common sense legislation to make it more practical and inexpensive for telecommunications companies to install the equipment necessary to provide statewide, high-speed internet access.
As a result, I introduced Senate Bill 598. This legislation requires the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to increase their utility corridor from six feet to 12 feet where space is available. These utility corridors play a vital role in expanding telecommunications’ services across our state. By increasing the size of these corridors, companies have the opportunity to install cables and other buried utilities in a safer, faster and more cost-effective manner. This includes improved access for broadband internet providers to efficiently install fiber optic cable, which in turn makes it cheaper to bring high-speed internet services to all Missourians.
Our existing utility corridors are extremely cramped and congested and often present challenges when maintenance issues must be addressed. However, by requiring the expansion of all utility corridors, telecommunications and utility companies will have easier access to bury new lines which I believe will result in fewer and less costly repairs to existing utilities and faster installation times. I believe this legislation is a necessary step in making it easier for utility companies and more importantly, internet providers to expand vital services to all Missourians. I was proud to see my Senate colleagues support this legislation and send it to the Missouri House of Representatives for consideration, and I am confident SB 598 will make it to the governor’s desk before the end of the 2018 legislative session.
It is an honor and privilege to be your State Senator and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at www.senate.mo.gov/riddle.