Biden-Harris administration dedicates $700M to expand rural broadband further

Aug. 24, 2023
The new funding, made available through the ReConnect Program, is part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week that $700 million in grants and loans are now available to connect thousands of rural residents, farmers and business owners in 22 states and the Marshall Islands to high-speed internet through the ReConnect Program.

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds this program to provide funding to help service providers bring broadband service to hard-to-reach rural, remote and unserved communities.

Bringing high-speed broadband service to all communities nationwide is a core part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to rebuild the economy from the bottom up and middle out by rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. A side benefit of this agenda is that it is driving $500 billion in private-sector manufacturing investments, rebuilding America’s infrastructure, lowering costs, and creating new jobs.

The new broadband internet investments are part of the fourth funding round of the ReConnect Program. Many residents and businesses in rural areas would not have high-speed internet service without the ReConnect Program, as the program is a vital part of the Administration’s Internet for All initiative to connect everyone in America to high-speed internet by 2030. This latest announcement includes $667 million in USDA investments in Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the Marshall Islands.

Also, the funding includes several investments that will benefit people living in Rural Partners Network (RPN) communities. RPN works with hundreds of federal, state and local partners to address specific needs in rural communities that have long struggled to access government programs and funding. RPN helps these communities carry out locally driven plans to create jobs, build infrastructure and support economic growth and stability.

Some of the projects that have been made possible through this investment include:

  • NoStar Telephone Membership Corporation: The rural North Carolina-based telco receives a $24.9 million grant to benefit 2,674 people, 84 businesses, 117 farms and four educational facilities in Bladen, Columbus and Sampson counties. Bladen and Columbus are part of an RPN community.
  • Pioneer Telephone Cooperative: The Oregon-based telco receives a $24.9 million grant to benefit 2,239 people, 50 businesses, 205 farms and one educational facility in Lincoln, Lane and Benton counties.
  • In New Mexico’s SWC Telesolutions Inc.: The provider receives a $9.2 million grant to benefit 4,962 people, 106 businesses, 11 farms and 17 educational facilities in Doña Ana and Sierra counties. Doña Ana County is part of an RPN community.

The Hood Canal Telephone Co. Inc. also receives a $3.8 million loan through the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan & Loan Guarantee Program. This investment will help construct 16 miles of fiber to provide high-speed internet access to 800 households and ten businesses in Union, Washington.

complete list of all of the funding recipients is available online.

“Keeping the people of rural America connected with reliable, high-speed internet brings new and innovative ideas to the rest of our country and creates good-paying jobs along the way,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we connect rural communities to a global marketplace. These investments will support economic growth and prosperity for generations to come.”