USDA’s Telecommunications Programs awarded grants and loans to increase rural broadband access
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced $91 million in funding to expand rural broadband access, through a combination of grants and loans for 19 projects.
Most of those projects revolve around fiber networks, although two of them include fixed wireless access and most of the grants include enabling free Wi-Fi access at community centers.
USDA said that the broadband projects will impact more than 27,000 businesses and households in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.
The funding awards included 15 grants between $1.3-$3 million, for a total of $33 million in grants; and four loans ranging from $5.8 million to $20.5 million, totaling $58.1 million in loans.
Anne Hazlett, assistant to the Secretary for rural development, said in a statement that “in the modern economy, rural broadband is a lifeline to quality of life and economic opportunity.” She added that USDA is “fiercely committed” to expanding rural broadband access.
The largest project is a $20.5 million loan to the Thacker-Grigsby Telephone Company in Kentucky for a fiber-to-the-premises network that will serve about 30,000 customers. The smallest project is a grant for about $450,000 to provide a fiber network for 178 households in San Juan County, Utah, along with establishing a community center with free Wi-Fi and computer terminals. Emery Telecom, a non-profit cooperative that serves the area, will contribute another $112,000 to that project.
Other projects include:
-About $1.8 million for a grant to Eastern Shore Communications, which serves parts of Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, to build a hybrid fiber and fixed-wireless high-speed network that will provide speeds of at least 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. Computers with free internet service and Wi-Fi also will be installed at a local community center. The network will pass about 3,000 households in Camden County, North Carolina.
-In Arkansas, a loan of more than $19 million will fund construction of a fiber-to-the-home broadband system in Dallas, Calhoun and Ouachita counties in the rural, southern area of the state to provide high-speed broadband. The system will not have data limits, according to the project summary, and it will provide media and video services as well as unlimited long distance telephone service. The network will serve about 5,100 subscribers of Arkansas Rural Telephone Services, with an estimated 24,500 people in the service footprint.
-A $3 million grant will fund the construction of a fiber-to-the-home broadband network to 406 unserved homes and businesses in Weakley County, Tennessee. The grant is to West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative, which will contribute $450,000 to the project. The funding enables enable the telephone company to expand its system and also includes a new community center with free access to seven computer terminals and Wi-Fi.
The full list of projects is available here (pdf).
The post USDA awards $91 million in rural broadband funding appeared first on RCR Wireless News.