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Broadband Planning in the Ozark Foothills Region

March 25, 2021 

Contact: Crystal Jones
Ozark Foothills Regional Planning Commission

Broadband Planning in the Ozark Foothills Region

The Ozark Foothills Regional Planning Commission (OFRPC) has partnered with AgriExperts and Geo Partners LLC, to further broadband development planning in the five-county Ozark Foothills region (Wayne, Ripley, Butler, Reynolds, and Carter Counties), which includes a broadband feasibility study and an internet speed test. To begin, the OFRPC staff will contact local governments, school districts, banks, and businesses directly to learn about their broadband access and needs. An anonymous, online questionnaire has also been created so that residents can provide information about broadband availability and usage in their homes. Within the questionnaire, residents are asked to complete an internet speed test. This speed test created by Geo Partners will provide residents with an accurate upload and download speed. The speed will then be recorded on a GIS map so that RPC staff can learn how broadband speeds are impacting residents across the region. The questionnaire and speed test can be found on the OFRPC’s website, located at www.ofrpc.org, and Facebook page and will take less than ten minutes complete. The information obtained will be key for short- and long-term broadband planning in the Ozark Foothills region.

To complete the broadband feasibility study, the OFRPC has partnered with AgriExperts to learn how broadband availability impacts the Ozark Foothills region. The objective of the study is to identify in- and out-migration of residents due to broadband availability, the impact of unserved and underserved residents, development costs, and provide broadband speed mapping for statistical accuracy. “The information collected through the study and speed mapping is crucial to understanding the full economic impact of broadband access across the region,” said Crystal Jones, executive director of the OFRPC. “Broadband has become a basic infrastructure need for economic development, much like electricity and transportation routes. The data collected from this process will help to leverage funding for investments in broadband deployment.” Funding for the feasibility study was made possible by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.

The Ozark Foothills Regional Planning Commission was designated by the Governor of the State of Missouri in 1967 under Missouri's State and Regional Planning and Community Development Act. The Commission was created to facilitate the cooperative effort of its member municipalities and counties in solving problems and planning the future development of human, natural, and economic resources of the Ozark Foothills region, defined as the counties of Butler, Carter, Reynolds, Ripley, and Wayne. The Commission serves as a guide to local units of government in accomplishing a coordinated and efficient development of the region and the promotion of its public health, safety, general welfare, and economic prosperity in accordance with the area's existing and future needs.