Socket to create up to 1,100 new fiber optic internet connections

Socket Telecom is building out its fiber optic internet infrastructure in western Boone County.

A $2.6 million Missouri broadband infrastructure grant through the Office of Broadband Development in the Missouri Department of Economic Development will allow Socket to build a fiber optic mainline that will have upward of 1,100 connections, equaling about 93 miles of fire optic cables. Socket is providing a matching investment to this American Rescue Plan Act funded program.

“Western Boone County has a desperate need for more reliable and faster internet,” said Kurt Bruemmer, Socket director of business improvement.

It will take roughly a year to construct and lay the mainline. Residential, commercial and governmental connections will come afterward. A map of where the service expansion will take place is available through the Socket website.

The need for a growing fiber internet network became apparent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bruemmer said, such as through working from home, telemedicine and more.

“Socket is committed to improving connectivity in Boone County. We previously have received grants for other parts of the county,” he said, noting this is in northern Boone County and around the areas of Ashland, New Franklin in Howard County, Moberly in Randolph County and Jefferson City in Cole County. “West Boone is an area we always have wanted to serve, and there certainly has been interest by residents, who are considered underserved.”

The portion of Boone County served by the fiber internet expansion is represented by Adrian Plank, D-Columbia, in the 47th district. Broadband was a major topic among constituents when he was campaigning.

“There are a lot of folks who would like to work from home in rural Missouri. As we lose farmers and they are looking to stay where they are from, I think expansion of broadband keeps them viable in those rural communities,” he said.

BJ Tanksley, director of the Office of Broadband development in the Missouri Department of Economic Development, speaks Tuesday at a ribbon-cutting for Socket Telecom's expansion of its fiber optic network into western Boone County.

Socket was founded in 1994 providing dial-up internet services, adjusting to DSL as technology improved. The company started providing fiber internet in 2011. Socket has more than 18,000 fiber internet customers.

“We are just continually building out our fiber footprint here in mid-Missouri and around Missouri. We are active in 22 counties and we have expanded to Clinton, Warrensburg, Sedalia, Rolla and Kirksville and we have more on the horizon,” Bruemmer said.

The person that will be flipping the proverbial switch on is Socket IT Director Dave Sill.

“My department actually lights the fiber with lasers. We handle everything from there on. We make the connections between the customer and the internet,” he said.

Socket is one of 60 service providers to receive the Missouri broadband infrastructure grant, said BJ Tanksley, director of the office of broadband development. The office received more than 300 applications, where the total amount sought was five times the available $265 million grant fund, he said.

“This project is a perfect example of what we hoped to do; work with providers that the people want to partake in, that do great work, that were willing to put their own funding in it, that are able to get to these tough to reach areas and continue to build out from there,” Tanksley said.

More:Missouri awards $260 million in federal dollars for rural broadband internet expansion

There are future opportunities for service expansion in the state now that there is another $1.7 billion pot available for broadband expansion as part of the Connecting All Missourians Campaign, he added.

The federal award is coming through the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program. Missouri received the third highest award behind Texas and California, said Amy VanDeVelde, National Telecommunications and Information Administration federal program officer for Missouri in the June broadband stakeholder update.

The federal award “is reflective of the the great need that exists” for broadband service in Missouri, VanDeVelde said.

Charles Dunlap covers local government, community stories and other general subjects for the Tribune. You can reach him at or @CD_CDT on Twitter. Subscribe to support vital local journalism.

Originally Appeared Here

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