MISSOURI — Missouri residents, officials, and leaders have the chance to help improve high-speed internet access in their area during an upcoming virtual video call with the state’s Office of Broadband Development (OBD).

Maps recently released by the Federal Communications Commission will determine how much of the $42.45 billion in federal broadband funding will go the Show-Me-State through the BEAD program.

The BEAD program, which stands for Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment – will provide funds to expand high-speed internet access by way of funding planning, infrastructure deployment, and adoption programs.

The FCC maps show what areas qualify for those funds based on how many people have access to federal broadband service.

A statewide call scheduled for Friday, December 16th, 2022 at 1 PM will cover how people can participate in the challenge process. Registration for the event can be made through Eventbrite or this Missouri Department of Economic Development link.

During the OBD meeting, staff will examine the map and discuss the FCC’s challenge process whereby individuals and institutions can submit corrections. That map can be found on the FCC’s website here.

The challenge process can open up qualifying or unserved areas to an increased share of Missouri’s BEAD resources, potentially bringing thousands of dollars of broadband assistance to the state.

All challenges filed by January 13th, 2023, will be considered in deciding the state’s allocation of BEAD funding.

OBD is also partnering with University of Missouri Extension to provide in-person, technical support for those interested in filing challenges at their county offices. You can reach the Jasper and Newton County extension offices here and here, respectively.

The Office of Broadband Development will also answer questions about the challenge process over the phone at 573-526-1028 or by email at broadband@ded.mo.gov.

In the past, prior federal broadband program maps were not as accurate with their service status in certain regions: Some locations would be considered “served” while still lacking access to broadband funding. The new maps, the FCC believes, list a more accurate view of who does not have access.