Many rural communities lack adequate broadband infrastructure, which limits the economic development potential in these regions. They are not able to attract new businesses, and established businesses are unable to use tools and services that require high-speed internet. Broadband access is a requirement for the Internet of Things, robotics, and big data, which are part of Industry 4.0 and the future economy. Such technological advances are not only transforming the manufacturing environments and the service industry, but also finding applications in the food supply chain, such as precision agriculture. In this study, we conducted 17 semi-structured interviews (11 reported here) with Missouri Regional Planning Commission (RPC) directors and experienced infrastructure planners to identify barriers for the deployment of broadband infrastructure in rural Missouri. Systematic qualitative analysis was conducted to identify key themes based on barriers previously identified in the literature. Participants reported that the top barriers are the return on investment and financing of rural broadband projects. The literature tends to be dominated by technology solutions, which received the least number of mentions as a barrier in the interviews.

Meeting Name

2020 IISE Annual Conference (2020: Nov. 1-3, Virtual Conference & Expo)


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Rural; Broadband; Strategic Planning; Infrastructure; Economic Development

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2020 Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

03 Nov 2020