STELLA, Mo. — Some of the most rural areas of Southwest Missouri will soon see a big boost in internet service.

“Over the past few years, you know, with the pandemic and everything we’ve noticed that there has been definitely more a demand for higher bandwidth speeds,” said Kendall Williams, Le-Ru Telephone.

Le-Ru Telephone in Stella plans to start growing its broadband operations in the next few months.

A $3,600,000 federal grant will help pay for the new additions, funding about 70 miles of fiber optic cable.

“We currently offer 25 three, which is 25 megabit download and three megabit upload, there are some areas that can only get 10 megabit download speeds and one megabit upload speeds. With the new fiber optic service we’ll be able to offer one-gigabit speeds,” said Williams.

The grant will extend service to about 179 homes.

But the total project includes much more territory, 1,000 homes at a cost of nearly $28,000,000.

They’re hoping for more grant funding to help cover those costs, but add the improvements are badly needed for a number of reasons.

“Streaming or the gaming or the entertainment part of it. It’s also their livelihood. Now you know, they’re you know, and we see that there’s going to be more and more technologies or things that are going to be able to use this technology as we go forward,” said Williams.

The broadband expansion will generally cover the Stella, Rocky Comfort, and Powell area.

It will also extend toward rural areas near Pineville and Washburn.

“We did have a lot of difficulties with different terrain. Definitely, the soil it has you know, very rocky very difficult to put every fiber optic in there,” said Williams.

Construction isn’t yet underway, but they’re hoping to see that start sometime this spring.