Missouri seeks $142 million from stimulus for Internet access

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 | 5:09 p.m. CDT; updated 6:20 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 12, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY— Missouri is seeking $142 million of federal stimulus money to expand high-speed Internet access to remote parts of the state.

A project proposal being submitted Thursday to the federal government would lay 2,500 miles of fiber-optic cable and construct 200 broadband towers across the state. Local Internet service providers then would hook into the system to provide coverage to homes and businesses.

"Just as the railroads and interstates transformed Missouri communities in decades past, this massive undertaking would truly help connect every corner of Missouri with the information superhighway of the future," Gov. Jay Nixon said Wednesday.

High-speed Internet is available to fewer than 80 percent of Missouri residents. The proposal would extend access to more than 91.5 percent of the state's population, Nixon said.

The federal stimulus package includes $7.2 billion for broadband expansion nationally, most of which is aimed at underserved rural areas. The funding is to be distributed through competitive grants and loans.

Missouri is proposing to match its requested federal grant with $25.2 million that the state previously received under the stimulus act. A subsidiary of the Marshfield-based Sho-Me Power Electric Cooperative would contribute $8.4 million worth of fiber lines for the expanded network.

Nixon said the project could provide the infrastructure needed for hospitals and medical clinics to make better use of telemedicine and electronic health records.

"This project has the potential to connect doctors and patients across our state at the speed of light; open the doors of our colleges and universities to students in every corner of Missouri; and expand markets for our small businesses not only around Missouri, but all across the globe," Nixon said.

The federal government is expected to announce awards for the high-speed Internet grants in December, the governor's office said.

Nixon said Missouri also was working with local Internet service providers to apply for stimulus funds to build the "last-mile" extensions of the proposed broadband network.


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Charles Dudley Jr August 12, 2009 | 6:00 p.m.

Interesting project and is this coming from the Bush legacy of wanting a computer in every home? That was the only think I liked about GW and probably the only thing that made sense.

The thing is with online schooling becoming more popular this would be a great thing for those school age kids who really want to stay at home on the farm to help mom and dad do the work needed to keep said farms running.

Obama was wanting Broadband into every home too which is a nice gesture if he too is looking at GW's project that did not see fulfillment.

It can work if all involved work to make it happen.

The next question in this fading economy is where do all of those home owners get the monies to buy all of those computers and afford the ISP fees monthly?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 12, 2009 | 11:02 p.m.

"High-speed Internet is available to fewer than 80 percent of Missouri residents. The proposal would extend access to more than 91.5 percent of the state's population, Nixon said."

Funny, I thought high-speed satellite Internet was available to 100% of Missouri residents as long as they pay for it (that pesky catch). Where do I send my monthly Socket bill to have Uncle Sugar pick it up for me?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 13, 2009 | 4:41 a.m.

John Schultz I wonder exactly what level of Broadband we are talking here? Is it a low level DSL type or a mega fast 20 mb dn / 2 mb up?

Sure they can run the Fiber Optics but they can also throttle it down at the end too.

Now if they are providing a modest 2 mb dn / 512 kbps up I can see that at a modest price that would be cool but I tend to see these ISP's milking their future customers over the pricing of this new installation.

Yes Sat Internet is available but is quite sketchy and unreliable in storms,winds and other assorted weather conditions and is always susceptible to complete failure. I'll take underground cabling any day.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 13, 2009 | 5:07 a.m.

Ok so re-reading this thing they are talking "Towers" which I guess we can translate into "Wireless Internet"?

Starting to remind me of a story line I read in a book some time ago where the Government went in and put up broadcast towers with repeater/transmitters all across the country so anybody and everybody could hook up via cell phone or laptop to anywhere.

Interesting to say the least seeing this coming to be now.

(Report Comment)
Justine Rogers September 22, 2009 | 1:35 p.m.

I live in the country and pay a horrendously large amount each month for satellite service that is sketchy, slow, and unreliable. Cell phone coverage is also sporadic where I live, so using cellular internet coverage is not a much brighter option. This is the first good news I've had about the internet since I moved!

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 22, 2009 | 3:44 p.m.

Now another issue to go along with this issue is the implantation of GPS chips in alot of new cell phones in the future and how would these new "Towers" be used in the further triangulation of those signals to be able to pin point a particular cell phone whether it was turned off or on?

Interesting issue here that the Missourian should really explore in the future in a more comprehensive article.

(Report Comment)

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