#Unplugged

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Many of us take for granted a lightning fast response when we log on to the internet. But that isn’t the case for 61 percent of rural Missouri, where high speed access isn’t an option.

If it takes more than a second or two to connect, you might wonder if your internet service is down. But for many rural parts of Missouri, that’s never the case, because there’s no broadband. And that hurts much more than your search for the latest trailer on IMDB.

“When you get out of town, that’s when it gets dicey,” says Kevin Butler.

And Kevin Butler should know. He handles technology at Wheaton High School, one of the few spots in the area with broadband. In fact, folks needing a strong connection may park nearby to tap into the school network.

“And you can usually see it after hours, you know because we have the wireless people you know pick up off our signal,” says Butler.

But he points out it isn’t just Wheaton or even Barry County that lacks connectivity.

“Even between Neosho and Joplin – you know that farm country out there, it’s hard to get anything. You’d figure between two metropolitan areas that they could build – nope,” says Butler.

In fact, the Federal Communications Commission estimates 61% of rural Missouri lacks high speed internet. Adding that infrastructure isn’t cheap or easy and so is slow to expand where there are fewer residents.

“In today’s time that’s unacceptable,” says Gov. Mike Parson.

Expanding broadband is a priority for Missouri Governor Mike Parson, for the state in general and specifically for students.

“We’ve got about 10 schools out there that still don’t have broadband access to broadband. That’s something I really want to focus on and try to get fixed,” says Gov. Parson.
  
And Missouri has gotten a big boost from Uncle Sam – $255 million in the next 10 years. Parson points out that helps students, helps rural towns and businesses and even helps farms transition to 21st century tools.

“I think anytime we can give them the equipment they need to be more successful, especially for the generation that’s coming because technology is going to play such a role in our everyday lives,” says Gov. Parson.

Something Toby Teeter knows firsthand. A veteran internet entrepreneur, his new focus is the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. And that includes technology, innovation and high speed internet.

“I use applications to communicate with staff in real time. So we have a corporate chat system that allows us to trade files, communicate in real time with employees,” says Toby Teeter, Chamber President.

And it’s not just 9-5. Even his kids need at strong connection.

“Connectivity is relevant because you have homework assignments that are due at 10 pm,” says Teeter.

So more broadband means kids don’t miss deadlines and Kevin Butler doesn’t have to worry about the wheel of death.

“You download the bigger files and you might well go out to dinner and stuff because it’s going to be sitting there,” says Kevin Butler.

Something that can still be all too common – especially in Missouri and Oklahoma, on the list of the ten worst connected states.

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