AT&T, UScellular and three other companies will share nearly $8 million in funding from the state of Missouri to cover some of the costs of deploying cell towers in high-cost rural areas of the state.
The buildouts are expected to make LTE or later-generation cellular service available to 18,000 high-need locations that previously lacked quality service. The towers also are expected to improve 911 connectibity.
Cell tower company Branch Towers VI LLC will take home the largest share of the funding – over $3.2 million, which will go toward the construction of five cell towers that will serve 11 counties.
UScellular was the second biggest winner and will receive over $2 million for four towers that will serve eight counties. The company applied for funding as USCOC of Greater Missouri, LLC.
The third biggest winner was a local provider – Rock Port Telephone Company. The company will use the $1.2 million it was awarded to build two towers that will serve two counties.
AT&T, which applied for funding as New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC, will receive over $848,000 to go toward the construction of two towers.
Tower company Vertical Bridge REIT, LLC will receive over $645,000 for construction of a single tower.
The awards were made through Missouri’s Cell Tower Grant Program, which launched in May with a total budget of $20 million that came through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The program is administered by administered by the Missouri Department of Economic Development Office of Broadband Development.
This is the second and final round of awards to be made through that program.
Three of the awardees announced in the second round – AT&T, UScellular and Branch Towers VI — also won funding in the first round.
AT&T’s and UScellular’s winnings were considerably higher in the first round than in the second. Branch Towers won similar amounts in both rounds.
“While there remains plenty of work to be done, today’s announcement is a major step forward in enhancing cellular coverage to the hardest-to-serve areas of our state,” said BJ Tanksley, director of the Missouri Office of Broadband Development, in a prepared statement.