Public meeting on broadband Internet planned for today in Dexter
Thursday, April 12, 2012
DEXTER, Mo. -- A third public meeting of the Bootheel Regional Technology Planning Team is planned for 9 a.m. today at the Bootheel Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission office in Dexter. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the draft of a plan to expand broadband Internet service to rural areas.
The state's goal is to increase broadband accessibility to 95 percent of the total population over the next few years. Currently, fewer than 80 percent of Missourians have access.
The MoBroadbandNow initiative was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus package adopted by Congress in 2009. Missouri received more than $310 million, and 17 broadband projects have been funded across the state. The Bootheel counties of Stoddard, Dunklin, Scott, New Madrid, Mississippi and Pemiscot are not among the 17 broadband projects funded.
Michael Dumey, who is with the BRPC, serves as the Bootheel coordinator for the Technology Planning Team. Representatives from numerous industries and other interested parties took part in the first two meetings to adopt a plan. The third meeting is to finalize that plan.
Dumey says he hopes representatives from area service providers will attend the meeting Thursday. Broadband service can be offered by cable or by a wireless network. Dumey says there are still many "dead" areas in the Bootheel which would make wireless service difficult. Still, wireless towers are being installed at a growing rate making service more available to all people in the Bootheel.
Big River is launching a $33 million 4G LTE broadband network to serve the counties of Washington, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Madison, Perry, Bollinger and Cape Girardeau. The company celebrated the grand opening of Big River Broadband's headquarters in a renovated fire station in downtown Farmington this week. Big River has partnered with Alcatel Lucent, a Paris-based networking and communications technology company, on its broadband project. Big River received a $12
million grant and a $12 million loan from MoBroadbandNow to provide the service.
Since last year, Big River has installed 22 wireless broadband towers in the seven-county area the network will serve. A total of 58 will be constructed.
Dumey says the BRPC will try to finalize the Bootheel broadband plan and apply for future funding to serve the six Bootheel counties covered by the BRPC.
The Bootheel Technology Planning Team and members of the public will have the opportunity to review the Strategic Plan and provide feedback before and during the April 12 meeting.
The BRPC office is located at 105 E. North Main Street in Dexter. For more information, contact BRPC at 573-614-5178.