The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest $95 million to improve or expand access to broadband internet in the rural U.S. The 12 projects involved will include converting exchanges from copper to optical fiber and also building a fiber-to-the-home network to meet future demand.
These projects will expand access to educational, social and business opportunities for rural subscribers in 11 states by connecting businesses to customers, farmers to markets and students to a world of knowledge.
Location Should Not Determine Access
According to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, “A person’s location should not determine whether he or she has access to modern communications infrastructure. That is why the USDA is partnering with businesses and communities by investing in state-of-the-art broadband e-connectivity to remote and rural areas.”
The USDA is making the investments through the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program and the Community Connect Grant Program.
Examples of the Investments
Chibardun Telephone Cooperative, Inc. in Cameron, Wisconsin, will receive a $21.4 million loan to improve outside plant facilities in four of its six exchanges. It will construct 675 miles of fiber-to-the-premises and install associated electronics. It plans to build a fiber-to-the-home network capable of sustaining customer demands in broadband connectivity for the foreseeable future.
Osage Innovative Solutions, LLC in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will receive a $2.7 million grant to construct a hybrid fiber-to-the-premises and fixed wireless system in an unserved and economically depressed portion of the Osage Nation in Osage County. The company will offer speeds up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 10 Mbps upload. This project will give customers access to high-quality telecommunications to improve economic, education and health care opportunities. Osage will provide a community center where residents can access the internet free of charge.
The Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone Company, in Green City, Missouri, is receiving a $13.7 million loan to convert six exchanges from copper plant to optical fiber to the premises. It will construct nearly 500 route miles of optical fiber.
These investments will help to improve the quality of life in rural Arizona, Iowa, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.