USDA is investing more than $200 million in infrastructure projects to bring broadband to hundreds of unserved and underserved rural communities.
“Broadband infrastructure is vital to our economy and quality of life in rural America. Yet, today nearly 40% of rural residents and businesses lack access to the same quality service available in urban centers,” said Anne Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development. “From access to health care to workforce training and connection to global markets, broadband is truly a lifeline to prosperity in rural communities.”
USDA is awarding nine grants in Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, as well as 10 loans to expand broadband in rural areas. The loans will provide new or improved broadband access for more than 71,000 residents and businesses in 74 counties in rural parts of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
These awards are being financed through USDA’s Telecommunications Program, which has provided financial assistance to more than 500 telecommunications providers nationwide. USDA is announcing $207 million in loans and grants today.
Previous awardees, such as the Moultrie Independent Telephone Company in Illinois, have used USDA funding to expand broadband availability and make dramatic service improvements. Moultrie is using a USDA loan to increase network speed by almost tenfold in Lovington, Ill. Faster speeds can mean a significant increase in profits for area businesses that need real-time access to futures and options exchanges such as the Chicago Board of Trade.
Source: USDA Rural Development