The Federal Communications Commission has awarded 17 Missouri broadband providers a total of more than $346 million to expand high-speed internet in rural areas, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt's office announced this week.
Blunt is a member of the U.S. Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which has business including communications.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic and the digital adaptations people have had to make to it have highlighted the importance of internet access, and "while we've made meaningful progress toward ending the digital divide, nearly one-third of rural Missourians still don't have access to broadband. This investment will get us another step closer to bringing high-speed internet to unserved areas in our state."
The money to providers was awarded through the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction.
The largest single amount awarded among the 17 providers was almost $158.8 million to LTD Broadband LLC.
CenturyLink Inc. got more than $275,000.
Blunt's full news release with the other recipients and the amounts awarded is available at blunt.senate.gov/news/press-releases/blunt-announces-more-than-346-million-fcc-investment-to-expand-rural-broadband-in-missouri.
The FCC, in its announcement of the Rural Digital Opportunity auction, said a total of $9.2 billion was allocated to serve 5.2 million American households and businesses in rural areas of 49 states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
"Moreover, 99.7 percent of these locations will be receiving broadband with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps, with an overwhelming majority (over 85 percent) getting gigabit-speed broadband," the FCC added.