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Biden-Harris Administration Announces $401 Million for High-Speed Internet Access in Rural Areas

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Department is investing $401 million to provide access to high-speed internet for 31,000 rural residents and businesses in 11 states, part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to investing in rural infrastructure and affordable high-speed internet for all. This announcement includes a group of investments from the ReConnect Program, and an award funded through USDA’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee program. 

The Department will make additional investments for rural high-speed internet later this summer, including ReConnect Program funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S.

“Connectivity is critical to economic success in rural America,” Vilsack said. “The internet is vital to our growth and continues to act as a catalyst for our prosperity. From the farm to the school, from households to international markets, connectivity drives positive change in our communities. The investments I am announcing today will help 31,000 people and businesses in large and diverse regions across the country access new and critical opportunities. Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA knows rural America is America’s backbone, and prosperity here means prosperity for all.”

USDA is supporting high-speed internet investments in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas through today’s announcement. Several awards will help rural people and businesses on Tribal lands and those in socially vulnerable communities.

As part of today’s announcement:

  • Uprise LLC is receiving a $27.1 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network in Pershing County, Nevada. It will connect 4,884 people, 130 businesses, 22 farms, and seven public schools to high-speed internet. Uprise LLC will offer subscribers symmetrical service tiers of 200 megabits per second (Mbps) or one gigabit per second. It plans to apply to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Affordable Connectivity Program to enable subscribers to obtain the 200 Mbps symmetrical service for free. This project will serve people in the Lovelock Indian Colony and several socially vulnerable communities in Pershing County.
  • The Midvale Telephone Company is receiving a $10.6 million loan to deploy a fiber-to-the-home network. It will connect 455 people, 39 businesses and 69 farms to high-speed internet in Elmore, Blaine, Custer and Boise counties in Idaho, and in Gila, Graham, Pinal, Cochise and Pima counties in Arizona. This loan will serve people in socially vulnerable communities in Pinal County in Arizona and Elmore County in Idaho.  
  • The Arkansas Telephone Company Inc. is receiving a $12 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 986 people, 10 businesses and 145 farms to high-speed internet in Searcy and Van Buren counties. The company will offer low-cost starter packages with voice and voice/data. Discounts will be available to participants of the FCC’s Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs. 

Background: ReConnect Program
To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant must serve an area where high-speed internet service speeds are lower than 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload). The applicant must also commit to building facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service at speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in its proposed service area. 

To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, visit www.rd.usda.gov or contact the nearest USDA Rural Development state office

Background: Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
President Biden forged consensus and compromise between Democrats, Republicans and Independents to demonstrate our democracy can deliver big wins for the American people. After decades of talk on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, President Biden delivered the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – a historic investment in America that will change people’s lives for the better and get America moving again.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $65 billion to ensure every American has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet through a historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment. The legislation also lowers costs for internet service and helps close the digital divide, so that more Americans can make full use of internet access.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. 

Source : usda.gov

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