Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $167 million in 12 states to deploy broadband infrastructure (PDF, 360 KB) in rural areas without sufficient access to high-speed internet.
“Generations ago, the federal government recognized that without affordable access to electricity, Americans couldn’t fully participate in modern society and the modern economy. Broadband internet is the new electricity. It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning and health care, and to stay connected,” Secretary Vilsack said.
“This is why President Biden’s American Jobs Plan prioritizes building ‘future-proof’ broadband infrastructure – like the investments we’re announcing today – in areas without sufficient access to broadband, so that we finally reach 100 percent high-speed broadband coverage,” said Secretary Vilsack.
These investments will benefit rural people in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
For example, as part of today’s announcement:
• Gila Local Exchange Carrier, Inc., which does business as Alluvion Communications, headquartered in Chandler, Ariz., will use a $14.8 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network in rural Arizona. The funded service area includes 5,547 households, 22,645 people, 142 businesses, a school, a health care facility and six farms spread over 59 square miles.
• Central Virginia Services Inc., headquartered in Arrington, Va., will use a $14.1 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network in rural Virginia. The funded service area includes 37 educational facilities, three health care facilities, 14 essential community facilities, 4,139 households, 13,886 people, 193 businesses and 65 farms spread over 65 square miles.
• Altamaha Electric Membership Corporation, headquartered in Lyons, Ga., will use a $10.6 million loan and a $10.6 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network in rural Georgia. The funded service area includes 6,665 households, 18,789 people, 25 educational facilities, 17 essential community facilities, 10 health care facilities, 573 businesses and 207 farms spread over 246 square miles.
The investments being announced today are part of the $550 million Congress allocated to the second round of the ReConnect Program (PDF, 3.8 MB) as well as other funds made available for the program since 2018. USDA expects to begin inviting applications for a third round of program funds in the coming weeks.