Initiatives trying to bring high-speed Internet to rural areas

Two Mid-Missouri towns awarded federal grants

The lack of reliable Internet access in rural areas has been likened to the lack of electricity in those same areas during the 1930s. In those days, cities boomed with the availability of electricity, while the countryside seemed cut off from modern conveniences.

“Back then, the effort was driven from the people,” said Ken Johnson, CEO and general manager of Co-Mo Electric Cooperative. “The larger providers had determined there wasn’t a way to bring electricity to rural areas and earn the required profit to make their shareholders happy. Regular folks got together and formed this type of not-for-profit business called an electric cooperative and got the job done.

“Today, the larger communications companies have said it’s not feasible to bring broadband to the rural areas and earn the required profit to make their shareholders happy,” he continued.

But in an effort to decrease the digital divide, both federal and Missouri state governments have created initiatives to extend broadband, high-speed Internet to more people, particularly those in underserved or unserved areas like rural environments.

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Olean and Fulton are two Mid-Missouri towns that have been awarded federal grants for broadband projects. But so far, Fulton hasn’t seen much progress.

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