Callaway County cellular provider receives $3 million grant

A cellular provider operating in Callaway County received a $3 million grant to help it build towers connecting rural areas Friday.

Branch Towers VI, LLC serves Callaway, Crawford, Dent, Franklin, Gasconade, Montgomery and Washington counties.

The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) awarded $12 million overall to three providers. Recipients are to use the funds to create "greater 911 connectivity to high-cost areas." The program is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act, and is focused on investments that help expansion of cellular service statewide, according to a DED news release.

Crawford and Washington counties are also served by New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC, which received more than $3.2 million. New Cingular serves 18 counties.

A third provider, USCOC of Greater Missouri, LLC, provides service in 19 rural Missouri counties and received more than $5.8 million.

Branch Towers will use the money for four projects in its coverage area.

Statewide, Projects receiving funds through the Cell Towers Grant Program are expected to serve more than 17,000 high-need locations that previously lacked quality cellular service. The program, administered by DED's Office of Broadband Development, launched in May and awarded competitive grants to applicants who also contributed private funding in addition to grant funds. Each awarded project will result in the construction of one cellular tower.

DED opened a second round of funding through the Cell Towers Grant Program Friday. Of the original $20 million appropriated by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and the General Assembly, $7.9 million remains available for eligible providers and tower owners for the construction of new towers.