Nearly a third of Missourians - or about 1.8 million people - lack access to high-speed internet, according to a report last month from the Federal Communications Commission. That means Missouri ranks 15th among all states for the highest percentage of residents not served by fiber networks that can deliver such high speeds.
The FCC puts out a report annually to record progress on its mandate that broadband be “deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.”
The report also highlights a digital divide between rural and urban Missourians. More than 70 percent of rural Missourians, versus only 12 percent of the state’s urban population, had no access to advanced broadband internet service....
Attorney Mike Orlowski, an associate at Polsinelli law firm, has worked with the St. Louis Regional Chamber in its involvement with the St. Louis Regional Broadband Summit. He said having so many people living in areas where high-speed broadband service isn’t being delivered hurts not only residents, but also local economies.
“It means that towns can’t compete economically. It means that people don’t have basic access to data and even more importantly now, access to enough data to run the apps and websites and services that we need to survive, whether it’s doing your taxes or watching Netflix or everything we’ve come to rely on its so data-heavy,” Orlowski said. “If you are out in rural Missouri, you’re going to have a hard time having enough bandwidth to just perform daily functions.”
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