USDA funding behind push to get high-speed internet to rural areas

USDA funding behind push to get high-speed internet to rural areas

USDA says $74.8 Million in Telecom Loans and $11 Million in Community Connect Grants will increase internet access for rural areas in seven states

Residents in seven states will benefit from $85.8 million in funding to strengthen access to high speed broadband for rural America, announced Monday by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Related: Faster internet focus of new federal broadband council; Vilsack is co-chair

Vilsack said broadband helps rural areas and residents expand economic opportunities and jobs."It is as vital to rural America's future today as electricity was when USDA began bringing power to rural America 80 years ago," Vilsack said.

The investments will deliver broadband to rural communities that are currently without high-speed internet service, or whose infrastructure needs to be upgraded, he said.

USDA says $74.8 Million in Telecom Loans and $11 Million in Community Connect Grants will increase internet access for rural areas in seven states

"Improved connectivity means these communities can offer robust business services, expand access to health care and improve the quality of education in their schools, creating a sustainable and dynamic future those who live and work in rural America."

Telecommunications Loans:

• In Minnesota, a $12.63 million loan to Garden Valley Telephone will include fiber and electronics upgrades to improve the system for rural subscribers. Consolidated Telephone will use a $12.27 million loan to provide greater bandwidth to subscribers, allowing delivery of enhanced services with network upgrades, infrastructure additions and add a new fiber ring.

• South Carolina's FTC Communications will use a $12.38 million loan to upgrade their wireless telecommunications network to 4G/LTE, meeting growing demand for reliable, higher speed services.

• In Montana, Triangle Telephone Cooperative Association will use a $29.95 million loan to upgrade their system with fiber to supply greater bandwidth to increase speed and the quality of service for their rural Montana subscribers.

• In Wisconsin, LaValle Telephone Cooperative will use $7.61 million to deploy fiber and replace a switch to provide rural subscribers with improved services, including voice over Internet Protocol and the flexibility to connect to Gigabit Ethernet and IP interfaces.

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Community Connect Grants:

• In Alaska, the Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative, Inc. will receive a $1.4 million grant to provide Point Hope subscribers with high-speed internet service and prepare the network for an undersea fiber connection currently planned for construction within the next two years.

Related: Federal initiatives aim to expand internet service options

• Minnesota's Northeast Service Cooperative will receive two $3 million grants for two projects to provide broadband service to subscribers on the Fond du Lac Reservation. NESC will partner with the Fond du Lac Band of Superior Chippewa.

• Oklahoma's @Link Services will receive a grant of nearly $1.5 million to provide high-speed broadband to homes, businesses and critical community facilities in parts of Seminole County.

• Virginia's Scott County Telephone Cooperative will receive $2.1 million to build a broadband network with one gigabyte of bandwidth for 540 locations in Dickenson County.

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