Missouri Legislature Creates Pole Fund to Accelerate Broadband Expansion

June 13, 2022

The Missouri General Assembly recently took action to address a major barrier to expanding high-speed internet access in unserved communities.

On May 6, the Missouri House approved HB 3020, which utilizes federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to create a $15 million broadband pole replacement program. The new fund will help speed deployment by providing resources to upgrade or replace aging or damaged utility poles that are unable to accommodate modern broadband infrastructure. The bill was delivered to Governor Parson’s desk on May 18.

The new pole fund will dramatically accelerate projects aimed at delivering broadband access to unserved Missouri families. For too long, Missouri’s aging utility pole infrastructure has chilled efforts to reach an estimated 422,000 Missourians who still lack access to reliable, high-speed internet. Utility poles are the backbone of broadband infrastructure in rural communities, and a dedicated fund to upgrade them promises to unlock up to $8.05 billion in long-term economic gains for Missouri.

Rural broadband champions in the General Assembly, including Senator Mike Cierpiot, Senator Dan Hegeman, Representative Cody Smith, and Representative Louis Riggs worked hard to ensure this important provision was included among the broadband priorities approved at the conclusion of the legislative session. CTF Missouri urges Governor Parson to sign HB 3020 so that work can begin to swiftly deploy these new resources to help close the state’s digital divide.