Improving Access To Reliable Internet
There’s no question that we live in a digital age. On a daily basis, I’m sure many of us use the internet to keep up with friends, stay current on the day’s events and explore a seemingly endless slew of streaming services. And it seems the internet can do even more than that these days. It can connect students to classrooms, customers to products and services and even helps farmers work their fields, making our state’s ag industry even more efficient. But despite the prevalence and growing importance of the internet in our day-to-day lives, accessing this vital service is not always easy for some folks.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, more than 147,000 households, or almost 400,000 Missourians, lack high-speed Internet. Many of these Missourians are in our state’s rural areas. Further compounding the problem, it’s estimated that only 55% of Missourians have access to a low-cost internet plan. Whether that impacts students, working families or businesses, not having access to affordable, reliable internet can be a big problem.
Hoping to help solve this issue, on Aug. 19, the governor announced plans to deploy more than $400 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to increase broadband internet access statewide. Additionally, the Department of Economic Development has submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration Broadband Infrastructure Program requesting an additional $56 million for broadband deployment. If approved, this funding could support up to 19 projects, connecting more than 17,000 households, businesses and other institutions. Both of these plans could prove to be huge investments in our state’s digital infrastructure and have the potential to impact hundreds of thousands of Missouri families.
Just this past week, I had the opportunity to attend the Interim Broadband Committee’s Mid-Missouri community meeting in Ashland. After attending this meeting, I’m confident the state will keep broadband access as a top priority and continue to invest in innovative ways to ensure Missourians all across the state have access to quality, reliable internet.
As always, it is an honor to serve the 6th Senatorial District. If my office can be service to you, please feel free to contact us at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at senate.mo.gov/Bernskoetter.