JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri will get a piece of $42 billion to help pay for broadband access as part of a federal program. However, the state is asking residents to help make sure that everyone gets the right coverage.
All you need is your phone or computer. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is trying to figure out who has access to broadband and who doesn’t. Your participation could lead to Missouri be awarded hundreds of millions of dollars.
It’s a challenge with the hope of connecting all Missourians. Missouri residents are encouraged to check and possibly challenge the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Map. On Jan. 13, residents can file challenges to correct inaccuracies on the FCC map. The entire process to submit a complaint is outlined here.
“South central Missouri and northern Missouri have struggled with access in general, where the population just isn’t dense, and it cost a lot to get service to those areas,” Director of the Office of Broadband Development BJ Tanksley said. “Once we have this map decided, we’ll see the red dots remaining, the unserved and the underserved locations. We say that’s probably 100,000 to 200,000 locations across the state.”
Missouri ranks low nationally for high-speed interact access, with around 400,000 Missourians without any access at all. Roughly 13% of the state is unserved, meaning there is less than 25 megabytes per second download and less than 3 megabytes per second upload and almost 17% of the state is underserved, meaning less than 100 megabytes per second download and less than 20 megabytes per second upload.
State officials say the effort could help ensure coverage for homes, businesses, and communities is accurately represented, and possibly secured a larger share of funding if the map does not properly represent an area in need.
“As we make historic investments to expand internet access, I encourage Missourians to
participate in the FCC’s broadband map challenge process,” said Governor Mike Parson.
“Ensuring we have an accurate understanding of broadband coverage in Missouri is vital.
Maps that reflect our needs will ensure our state receives and administers the necessary
resources to advance our progress in this critical priority.”
Errors could relate to physical locations or types of internet service availability.
The FCC’s map, which displays the best available data of the state’s served, underserved,
and unserved areas, will determine how much of more than $42 billion the state will
receive for broadband expansion.
Missourians are asked to go to the FCC map online, then type in the address of your home or business.
“It will zoom into your location, and you will see red dots or green dots and that is going to be based on the served that it has,” Tanksley said. “Red meaning unserved or underserved, green meaning it has access to service.”
Then, if you click on the dot, it will show a list of providers that claim to serve that area.
“And if one of them doesn’t, you can click and challenge broadband availability and then actually put in your evidence that you actually don’t have service at your location,” Tanksley said.
Before now, the FCC made broadband maps based off census blocks, which Tanksley said was less accurate. If you don’t have internet access, the department has you covered
“We have reached out to the libraries across the state, they have this information, as well as the University of Missouri, their local extension offices which they have one in almost every county,” Tanksley said.
Tanksley estimates that Missouri could receive up to $500 million in federal funds, but said it’s based on if Missourians participate in the challenge. Previously, Tanksley said it would cost $2 billion dollars to completely close all the broadband gaps in the state. Last year, the General Assembly approved $265 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.