The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest $97 million in 12 projects to improve rural broadband across 11 states.
“A person’s location should not determine whether he or she has access to modern communications infrastructure,” explained Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “That is why USDA is partnering with businesses and communities by investing in state-of-the-art broadband e-connectivity to remote and rural areas. These investments will expand access to educational, social and business opportunities for 22,000 subscribers to help grow their rural communities and America’s economy.”
According to the USDA, the investments are being made through the Community Connect Grant Program and the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program. The funding will go towards projects in Iowa, Arizona, Maryland, Idaho, Missouri, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Nevada, Wisconsin, Wyoming and South Dakota.
Chibardun Telephone Cooperative, of Cameron, Wisc., received the largest loan at $21.4 million. The funding, the USDA says, will improve outside plant facilities in four of its six exchanges. This includes Almena, Cameron, Dallas and Ridgeland. This will result in 675 miles of additional fiber-to-the-premises, and the installation of associated electronics. The company also plans to build a fiber-to-the-home network to sustain customer demand in broadband connectivity. About 2,700 subscribers will benefit.
The Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone Company has also received a $13.7 million loan, and will use the money to convert its exchanges from copper plant to fiber-to-the-premises. The company will build about 500 route miles of fiber, according to the USDA. Over 1,000 subcribers will benefit.
Another major winner is Osage Innovative Solutions, which received a $2.7 million grant to construct a hybrid fiber-to-the-premises and fixed wireless system in Osage Nation, in Osage County, Oklahoma. The company will be able to offer speeds of up to 100 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload to 139 households and 22 companies.