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New fiber optic lines will provide better internet to rural SWMO communities

Gascosage Electric Cooperative awarded a $15 million grant and loan combo
Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 4:24 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2021 at 6:27 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Gascosage Electric Cooperative is ready to pull the trigger on a new project that will bring better internet to about 1,500 of its customers in southwest Missouri.

The company received a $15 million loan and grant that will provide funding for the installation of new fiber optic cables. The grant and loan are federally funded. Once the final approval comes through, the electric cooperative will begin work on installing the new lines.

Russ and Shelly Caton were the test site for the fiber optic line. They have been enjoying high-speed internet for about eight months.

“People are jealous that we have better internet than some of them,” Shelly said.

They went from one megabyte of download to 250-megabyte download speeds.

“We are kind of reconnected with the world, so to speak,” Russ said.

Once the project begins, about 1,500 customers in Phelps, Maries, Camden, Pulaski, and Morgan counties will enjoy the high-speed internet.

General Manager for Gascosage Electric Cooperative, Carmen Hartwell, said, “It’s a very expensive venture to run fiber optics out.”

The grant and loan combo total around $15 million. Over 300 miles of fiber optic lines run through the counties.

With so many appliances, security cameras, and even zoom meetings reliant on the internet, a better internet connection will open doors.

“I think it’s just unlimited what this will do for our members,” Hartwell said.

Gascosage serves about 8,000 customers. This loan is just the start.

“Our goal is in the future that we will be able to bring this to all of our members at some point,” Hartwell said.

“I can’t tell you enough how nice it has been to even be on the internet and work,” Shelly said.

Hartwell expects the project to begin within the next couple of months,

“So I would say, within the next three to six months, hopefully, we’re out there making the needed upgrades,” Hartwell said, “We’re excited that we’re able to bring this additional service to our members.”

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