CAMDEN COUNTY, Mo. — High-speed Internet could be coming to more areas at Lake of the Ozarks, and a Midwest company will spend millions of dollars to get it here.
Since winning a $220 million Federal Communications Commission (FCC) grant meant to bring broadband Internet to underserved areas, Wisper Internet began talks with Camden County Commissioner Don Williams and his Internet Advocacy Group. Those conversations began in May 2020. and now the group is trying to determine the areas of greatest need. They are asking Camden County citizens to complete this form if they would like to express interest in having Wisper Internet in their area.
Wisper uses wireless transmission to extend high-speed Internet into areas that it can be cost-prohibitive to reach with traditional fiber connections. They provide service in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma, and have been in business since 2003.
Wisper ISP is set to expand its network in Camden County through the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rural broadband auction, the Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II). In 2018, the FCC named Wisper as the “winning” bidder of $220.3 million in the CAF II.
Out of the $220.3 million, Wisper will be required to use $7,852,340 to build-out their network in Camden County. Funds will be distributed over of a span of ten years, bringing it to $785,234 annually. Even though funds are distributed over ten years, build-out must be completed within a six-year timeframe. Wisper will be required to build-out to 3,848 locations in Camden County, deemed underserved by the FCC. Visit the FCC’s CAF II Auction 903 Map to view the locations. Wisper received their first round of CAF II funding at the end of February 2020. Per the CAF II regulations, Wisper will offer speeds up to 100 Mbps in Camden County.
Recent discussions between Wisper and the Camden County Internet Advocacy Group have especially focused on the areas around Lake Roads 7-6 and 7-9, Iron Town and Z-Road. While gauging community interest, Wisper and the Advocacy Group say they have been putting together a map of elevated structures, such as water towers, 911 towers, private towers, and more. They have also been in conversations with landowners in case a new tower(s) would be necessary.
Of the collaboration, Commissioner Don Williams said, “Our Internet Advocacy Group is very active and is growing daily. We’ve had several highly productive e-meetings with Wisper representatives and have been extremely pleased at their responsiveness. Wireless Internet is the best option to deliver fast, reliable and economical broadband to the rural sections of Camden County in the shortest amount of time and we are very pleased to work with Wisper in this effort.”
“Wisper is excited to work with Commissioner Williams and his Internet Advocacy Group,” said Wisper CEO Nathan Stooke. “Wisper believes in working with the communities we provide service to. Commissioner Williams and his group have been a huge help. Because of their resources and knowledge of the area, we’ll be able to provide service to more Camden Countians in desperate need for a reliable Internet connection faster.”
According to Broadband Now, Missouri ranks 42nd in the nation for broadband connectivity. In a press release about their growth into Camden County, Wisper wrote, "Rural residents in all of Missouri are anxiously waiting for a reliable, high-speed Internet connection as it will impact their day to day lives. Reliable, high-speed Internet brings opportunity. It allows residents to connect with loved ones, earn an education, access telemedicine, work from home, increase business efficiency, pursue entrepreneurship, and more. Access to these opportunities will encourage people to move to rural communities. All these factors will play a part in improving the economic stability for these areas."