Projects will improve broadband communications in rural areas
Twenty-two broadband infrastructure projects will give rural residents in 18 states or territories access to improved economic and educational opportunities, according to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who announced the funding Thursday. Money for the projects is being provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
"These broadband projects will provide rural America access to the tools it needs to attract new businesses, educational opportunities and jobs," Vilsack said. "The Obama Administration understands that bringing broadband to rural America is an economic gateway for people, business owners, and key institutions - such as libraries, hospitals, public safety buildings and community centers. Broadband is important for rural communities to remain strong in the 21st Century."
In all, more than $254.6 million will be invested in 22 projects. An additional $13.1 million in private investment will be provided in matching funds. Congress provided USDA $2.5 billion in Recovery Act funding to assist applicants to bring broadband services to rural unserved and underserved communities. To date, $895.6 million has been provided to support 55 broadband projects in 29 states or territories.
For example, in rural regions of northeastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas, Totah Communications, Inc., has been selected to receive a $4.8 million loan and a $3.6 million grant to provide high-speed broadband to areas that are currently restricted to dial-up or first generation DSL facilities. This project will leverage an additional $2.1 million of applicant contributions and will reach customers in Ocheleta, Lenapah, Talala and Wann in northeastern Oklahoma; and Elgin and Hewins in southeast Kansas.
Projects in Minnesota include: Halstad Telephone Company (HTC). The HTC Minnesota Exchanges Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) Project; $3,277,500 loan and $3,277,500 grant. The funding will provide FTTP broadband in five towns and surrounding rural/farm areas in Norman and Polk Counties in Minnesota, using 320 miles of fiber optic cable and providing those locations with broadband capability up to 100 Megabits. (Less than five percent of this network will serve an area in North Dakota.)