U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, recently commended the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement that Missouri will receive $60.9 million through the ReConnect Pilot Program to expand rural broadband. The Blunt-backed fiscal year 2018 government funding bill included $600 million for the program, which targets areas that currently lack access to broadband and includes provisions that prevent overbuilding existing infrastructure.
In southwest Missouri, Total Highspeed LLC will use a $20.1 million loan and a $20.1 million grant to build a Fiber-to-the-Premises network to improve broadband services to families and businesses in rural Greene County. This investment is expected to reach 8,683 households, 20 pre-subscribed farms, 15 pre-subscribed businesses, eight critical community facilities, 12 educational facilities and a health care center.
“This investment will help strengthen economies and improve the quality of life in rural areas across the state,” Blunt said. “Bringing high-speed Internet to rural areas will help students succeed in the classroom, enhance economic opportunities for farmers and businesses, and improve health care in underserved communities. The investment announced today marks another important step toward ending the digital divide that has left about one-third of rural Missourians without access to broadband. I’ll continue working with local, state and federal officials to ensure every community has access to high-speed Internet.”
In 2019, a Missouri provider received $41.6 million through the program. With the recent announcement, Missouri providers will receive more than $100 million through the program.
Blunt has helped lead efforts to end the digital divide. The Blunt-backed FY2019 and FY2020 agriculture funding bills provided a total of $1.1 billion for the ReConnect Pilot Program. Blunt voted in favor of the 2018 Farm Bill, which made essential investments in rural America to expand access to high-speed broadband and improve infrastructure.