Webinar, publications offer guidance for local broadband initiatives

  • Published: Monday, June 21, 2021

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Thirty-seven percent of Missourians did not have wired broadband in their homes from 2015 to 2019.

Should we be concerned that one out of three Missouri households are not connected to high-speed internet? What does “wired broadband” mean? As governments roll out new broadband initiatives, these are timely questions that Broadband Technologies: A Primer on Access and Solutions can help answer.

Learn about the primer and other resources from the University of Missouri to support community broadband expansion at the Bringing Broadband to Missouri webinar 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 23. Presented by the UM System Broadband Initiative team, the free webinar offers guidance for local broadband expansion initiatives.

Participants will get a demonstration of the Digitally Connected Communities Guide, a soon-to-be released online course to help leaders, planners and stakeholders navigate the complicated process of becoming digitally connected. The webinar will also highlight a report on the economic benefits associated with fixed broadband expansion in three Missouri counties.

“There’s a renewed interest in closing the digital divide that separates many communities,” said Sarah Low, director of Exceed, an MU Extension program that provides research and insights for regional economic development. “The past year has put a spotlight on the issue, but some of the long-term challenges remain. It’s still costly to build out broadband in less populated areas. Even in places with broadband availability, broadband adoption can still lag significantly.”

New federal and state programs are helping to fund broadband expansion, but challenges persist, Low said. “To have the best outcomes, communities need to work collaboratively to address these challenges.”

The primer explains key technologies, terms and challenges surrounding broadband expansion in the U.S., particularly in rural areas. The primer is available at extension.missouri.edu/dm601. The June 23 webinar will be livestreamed at extension.missouri.edu/public-livestreams.

In addition to supporting the work of the UM System Broadband Initiative, MU Exceed faculty are also independently researching broadband policy issues and creating resources.

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