UM Broadband Initiative connects and empowers communities

More than a million Missourians can’t take advantage of broadband applications. The University of Missouri System is working to change that.


Jan. 28, 2021

About 20% of Missouri’s population lacks access to high-speed internet. That translates to more than a million Missourians who can’t take advantage of broadband applications that play increasingly vital roles in tackling Missouri’s “grand challenges” in the areas of economic opportunity, educational access and health and well-being.

That’s why the University of Missouri System Broadband Initiative was formed.

“We know that broadband access is critical to the advancement of our state’s priorities, like the NextGen Precision Health initiative, a 21st century workforce and access to education and opportunities that further support our economic prosperity,” said Marshall Stewart, UM System chief engagement officer and MU vice chancellor for extension and engagement. “We may not be building the physical networks, but we can convene the people to advocate, innovate, fund and protect this essential infrastructure for the people of our state.”

But bringing broadband to rural Missouri is not simply a matter of finding ways to pay for the necessary infrastructure and hardware. Each community’s unique combination of priorities, existing assets and potential partners — and sometimes even terrain — will determine specific costs, available funding sources and appropriate technologies.

Much of the Broadband Initiative’s effort to date has gone to providing resources to help communities work toward developing a feasible and appropriate broadband plan.

Read more from MU Extension

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