Missouri dishes out $261M to Charter, electric co-ops for broadband expansion

Cable operator Charter Communications was one of nearly two dozen providers that secured broadband funding from Missouri’s Department of Economic Development (DED) this week, scoring $11.8 million to expand service in Jefferson and Washington counties. But fiber players and electric cooperatives got the bulk of over $261 million in funding.

The largest recipient was White River Valley Electric Cooperative, which bagged $47.4 million for seven projects across Christian, Douglas, Ozark, Stone and Taney counties. The co-op currently provides electric services, but its website indicates plans to start building fiber-to-the-home later this year.

Chariton Valley obtained the next highest amount of $43.4 million, which will be allocated towards 10 fiber projects in seven counties. Once completed, the projects will provide symmetrical fiber internet to around 4,300 locations, the operator said in a press release.

Gateway Infrastructure snagged around $25.4 million to fund four projects in Lincoln, St. Charles and Warren counties. Gateway this month also turned up fiber in the city of Washington in Franklin County.

Other grant winners included SEMO Electric Cooperative ($16.6 million), Aptitude Internet ($13.9 million), Osage Valley Electric Cooperative Association ($9.5 million) and RDOF recipient Conexon Connect ($6.9 million). Conexon has helped electric co-ops, a rapidly growing cohort in the broadband space, launch their own networks.

Missouri doled out funds from its American Rescue Plan Act-fueled Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program, which allocated a total of $265 million to help providers build out networks in the state’s unserved and under-served areas. Eligible projects must be completed by September 30, 2026, and service must reliably meet or exceed symmetrical speeds of 100 Mbps.

All told, the state expects the investment – covering a total of 60 projects across 52 counties – to bring high-speed internet to more than 55,000 locations in Missouri.

“We truly believe these investments will be transformational for broadband expansion in Missouri,” stated BJ Tanksley, director of the Missouri Office of Broadband Development. “As we continue striving for a fully-connected future, we look forward to this program’s results and appreciate the stakeholder support that helped make it possible.”

It comes as no surprise Charter’s bagged another state grant. Earlier this month, the cable operator received around $24 million to build out service in Indiana, but its biggest win so far this year came from Georgia, which gave Charter nearly $50 million to connect more than 18,000 locations across five counties.

In 2022, Charter received more than $334 million in broadband grants, according to Fierce’s informal tally.