Quantum Fiber used Google Maps to illustrate its fiber broadband coverage in Springfield as of November 2021. The darker shade of blue represents parts of Springfield with fiber internet service with Quantum, while the lighter shade of red represents areas where Quantum plans to expand and eventually offer service. (Contributed photo)

Springfield City Utilities will be at the point of an effort to lead major cities in Greene and Christian counties to research and develop a plan to create regional broadband access.

City Utilities announced March 21 that it will assist Springfield, Willard, Republic, Strafford, Ozark and Nixa, plus Greene and Christian counties on the whole. SpringNet utility project managers will assist the coalition of cities with hiring a consultant to perform a broadband feasibility study, the cost of which is to be determined.

“The demand for reliable, fast, affordable internet has never been higher. Schools, families, and businesses alike need it now,” said Greene County Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon.

City Utilities’ SpringNet broadband project is on track to complete Springfield’s city-wide fiber project in 2023, according to a statement from City Utilities.

The purpose of the study is to determine how best to extend broadband services to residents and businesses within the municipal limits of the participating cities and counties.

“After beginning City Utilities’ fiber project in 2019, the creation of the (regional broadband initiative) grew from the surrounding community’s discussions on how they could provide fiber to residents and businesses,” said Dean Thompson, City Utilities Vice President-Chief Economic Development Officer.

Christian County Presiding Commissioner Ralph Phillips said that stay-at-home orders that came with the COVID-19 pandemic emphasized a demand that was already rising in southwest Missouri.

“The pandemic underscored broadband access is no longer a luxury, it is a necessary utility,” Phillips said.

SpringNet owns more than 650 route miles of fiber throughout the Springfield metropolitan area. Quantum Fiber is the residential arm of the project, offering customers advertised download speeds of up to 940 megabits per second at a cost of $65 per month. Most of Quantum Fiber’s customers are presently concentrated in north and west Springfield, with plans to eventually cover all of the city.

Fiber-optic internet technology converts information into light and transmits it through a glass fiber line. Bundles of these fibers send data back and forth from the end user to the rest of their network.

Rance Burger

Rance Burger covers local government for the Daily Citizen. His goal is to help people know more about what projects their government is involved in, and how their tax dollars are being spent. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger