USDA invests $97 million in rural broadband infrastructure

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue Aug. 1 announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $97 million in 12 projects to provide or improve rural broadband service in 11 states.

“A person’s location should not determine whether he or she has access to modern communications infrastructure,” Perdue said. “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.”

USDA is making the investments through the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program and the Community Connect Grant Program. Regional investments USDA is making include:

Andrew Telephone Company, Andrew, Iowa, is receiving a $2,748,000 loan to help construct a full FTTP system. The company will replace all of its copper loops with fiber-optic lines. It will deploy 71 route miles of buried and underground fiber optic facilities, and install new, active FTTP electronics. Approximately 230 residential and business subscribers in and around the town of Andrew will benefit from enhanced services such as internet protocol television and higher-speed broadband internet.

The Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone Company, in Green City, is receiving a $13.7 million loan to convert six exchanges from copper plant to fiber-to-the-premises. It will construct nearly 500 route miles of fiber. Northeast Missouri expects to improve service to 1,063 subscribers.

Osage Innovative Solutions, LLC in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is receiving 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 download and 10 Mbps upload to 139 households and 22 businesses. This project will give customers access to high-quality telecommunications services to improve economic, education and health care opportunities. Osage will provide a community center where residents can access the internet free of charge.

RC Technologies in New Effington, South Dakota, is receiving a Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program loan of $17 million to provide voice, video, and data services to more than 1,300 households, businesses and key community organizations. These services will create the potential for business growth, increased employment, better public services and public safety, and a higher quality of life for subscribers in Roberts and Marshall Counties in South Dakota and Richland County in North Dakota.

Millennium Networks, LLC, in Buffalo Valley, Wyoming, is receiving a Community Connect Grant for $1.309 million to provide broadband access to 143 households and 44 businesses in rural, western Wyoming. This area encompasses approximately 4,030 acres. The community will benefit from broadband speeds ranging from a minimum of 10 megabits per second (Mbps) up to 1 gigabyte per second. A community center will be provided where residents can access the internet free of charge for at least two years.

Larry Dreiling can be reached at 785-628-1117 or [email protected].