Funding includes rewards made possible by President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act
WASHINGTON, DC, October 27, 2022 – United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the department is providing $759 million to provide high-speed Internet access (PDF, 204 KB) to people living and working in 24 States, in Puerto Rico, Guam and Palau. Today’s investments include funding for President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act, which provides a historic $65 billion to expand reliable, affordable high-speed Internet access to every community in the United States.
“People living in rural towns across the country need high-speed internet to run their businesses, go to school and connect with loved ones,” Vilsack said. “The USDA partners with small towns, local utilities and cooperatives, and private companies to increase high-speed Internet access so that people in rural America have the opportunity to build a better future. Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, the USDA is committed to ensuring that people, wherever they live, have access to high-speed internet. That’s how you grow the economy – not just in rural communities, but across the country.
The $759 million in loans and grants comes from the third round of funding for the ReConnect program. As part of today’s announcement, for example:
- North Carolina’s AccessOn Networks Inc. Receives $17.5 Million Grant to Connect Thousands of People, 100 Businesses, 76 Farms and 22 Educational Institutions to High-Speed Internet in Halifax and Warren Counties in North Carolina. The company will make high-speed Internet service affordable by participating in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity programs. This project will serve socially vulnerable communities in Halifax and Warren Counties as well as residents of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal Statistical Area.
- Tekstar Communications receives $12.6 million grant to deploy fibre-to-the-premises network to connect thousands of people, 171 farms, 103 businesses and an educational institution to high-speed internet in Douglas, Otter Tail , St. Louis, Stearns and Todd counties in Minnesota. Tekstar will make broadband internet affordable by providing its “Gig for Life” service, where households that sign up for the internet will not see their internet prices increase as long as they stay at the same address and continue the service. Tekstar will also participate in the FCC’s Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity programs.
- In Colorado, the Eastern Slope Rural Telephone Association receives an $18.7 million grant to deploy a fibre-to-the-premises network connecting thousands of people, 898 farms, 110 businesses and 17 educational institutions to the Internet broadband in Adams, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Crowley, Elbert, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Lincoln and Washington counties. The company will make high-speed Internet affordable by participating in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program.
USDA awards 49 awards in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon , South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, Puerto Rico, Guam and Palau. This list includes awards given to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, the Navajo Nation, and the Tohono O’odham Nation. Many awards will help rural people and businesses on tribal lands.
In 2022, the Department announced $1.6 billion from the third round of ReConnect funding.
Context: ReConnect program
To be eligible for ReConnect program funding, an applicant must serve an area that does not have access to service at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload). The applicant must also commit to constructing facilities capable of providing high-speed Internet service with speeds of 100 Mbps (upload and upload) at each location within its proposed service area.
To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, visit www.rd.usda.gov or contact the nearest USDA State Office of Rural Development.
Background: bipartisan infrastructure law
President Biden has forged consensus and compromise among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to demonstrate that our democracy can bring great victories to the American people. After decades of talk about rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, President Biden has introduced the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act – a historic investment in America that will change people’s lives for the better and shake things up. America again.
The bipartisan Infrastructure Act provides $65 billion to ensure that every American has access to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet through a historic investment in the deployment of broadband infrastructure. The legislation also lowers the costs of internet services and helps bridge the digital divide, so that more Americans can take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by internet access.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunity, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This aid supports the improvement of infrastructure; Business development; lodging; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed Internet access in rural, tribal and very poor areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming the US food system with greater emphasis on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe food, healthy and nutritious in all communities, creating new markets and income streams for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in clean energy infrastructure and capacity in the rural America, and committing to equity across the department by removing systemic barriers and creating a workforce that is more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
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The USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.
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