WASHINGTON, June 12, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $714 million in grants and loans to connect thousands of rural residents, farmers and business owners in 19 states to reliable, affordable high-speed internet. Connecting all communities across the United States to high-speed internet is a central part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to rebuild our economy from the bottom up and middle out by rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, which is driving over $470 billion in private sector manufacturing investments and creating good-paying jobs.
“High-speed internet is a key to prosperity for people who live and work in rural communities,” Secretary Vilsack said. “Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can ensure that rural communities have access to the internet connectivity needed to continue to expand the economy from the bottom up and middle out and to make sure rural America remains a place of opportunity to live, work, and raise a family.”
Under the President’s Investing in America agenda, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes $65 billion to connect everyone to high-speed internet through the Internet for All initiative. USDA is connecting more people to high-speed internet in this fourth funding round of the ReConnect Program. Since the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration, the Department has invested in 142 ReConnect projects that will bring high-speed internet access to 314,000 rural Americans.
Today’s announcement includes $714 million in USDA investments in Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Washington. Some examples include:
In the South:
- The Home Telephone Company is receiving a ReConnect Program grant to connect nearly 4,000 people, 49 businesses, 46 farms and two educational facilities to high-speed internet in Berkeley County, South Carolina.
- The Decatur Telephone Company will connect 5,400 people, 257 farms, 74 businesses and four educational facilities to high-speed internet in Benton County, Arkansas.
In the West:
- The North-State Telephone Co. will deploy a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network connecting 1,490 people, 64 businesses and 43 farms in Wasco County, Oregon, to high-speed internet.
- The Cal-Ore Telephone Company will connect 757 people, 45 businesses, 14 farms and four educational facilities to high-speed internet in Modoc and Siskiyou counties in California.
- Both companies will make monthly internet service affordable by participating in the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program.
In the Midwest:
- Missouri’s Goodman Telephone Company Inc. will connect nearly 7,000 people, 206 farms, 140 businesses and two educational facilities to high-speed internet in McDonald and Newton counties.
- The Craw-Kan Telephone Cooperative Inc. in Kansas will connect 4,189 people, 821 farms, 149 businesses and three educational facilities to high-speed internet in Bourbon, Cherokee, Crawford, Labette and Neosho counties.
For more information, please view a full listing of projects from today’s announcement.
Background: ReConnect Program
Applicants to ReConnect Program funding must serve a rural area that lacks access to service at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20 Mbps upload. Applicants must also commit to building facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service with speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in the proposed service area. Additionally, to ensure that rural households that need internet service can afford it, all awardees will be required to apply to participate in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP offers a discount of up to $30 per month towards internet service to qualifying low-income households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal Lands.
Background: Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
President Biden forged consensus and compromise between Democrats, Republicans and Independents to demonstrate our democracy can deliver big wins for the American people. After decades of talk on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, President Biden delivered the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – a historic investment in America that will change people’s lives for the better and get America moving again.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $65 billion to ensure every American has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet through a historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment. The legislation also lowers costs for internet service and helps close the digital divide, so that more Americans can take full advantage of the opportunities provided by internet access.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
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