New fiber optic cables installed between Fulton, Holts Summit

Workers dig out earth July 16 along U.S. 54 between routes F and H for new fiber optic cable installations in Callaway County and across the state. The cables, owned by Bluebird Network, will benefit area hospitals, schools, government institutions and service providers.

Workers dig out earth July 16 along U.S. 54 between routes F and H for new fiber optic cable installations in Callaway County and across the state. The cables, owned by Bluebird Network, will benefit area hospitals, schools, government institutions and service providers. Photo by Dean Asher.

Commuters passing between Holts Summit and Fulton have no doubt noticed trucks and digging equipment along U.S. 54. What they might not have known was that improved internet and smart phone connections were on the horizon.

The fiber optic cable is part of a statewide project with Columbia-based Bluebird Network, adding about 1,500 miles of underground cable, which will be available for lease to service providers such as U.S. Cellular to provide better, faster service.

The installation in Callaway began in June, running along U.S. 54 between Holts Summit and Fulton. Funded in part by a $45 million federal grant and a $10.5 million in-kind contribution from Missouri, Bluebird’s project will help make high-speed connections more affordable for a number of public buildings and organizations within the next two years.

“Our primary customers are large government entities and communication providers,” said Mike Morey, Bluebird president and CEO. “So for instance, as part of that build there, we will be supplying services to the state prison, the hospital, the mental health care center, the rehab center and also a Missouri Department of Transportation Maintenance site.”

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