U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack on June 12 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.
As noted by a USDA press release, 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 the national economy "from the bottom up and middle out" by rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, which the agency notes "is driving over $470 billion in private sector manufacturing investments and creating good-paying jobs."
Under the President’s Investing in America agenda, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes $65 billion to connect rural subscribers 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.
“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.”
This week'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.
Per the press release, some examples include:
In the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S 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, view a full listing of projects from the announcement.