Biden-Harris administration announces $502 million for broadband internet in rural communities

September 22, 2022

Montana Economy

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The funding will provide high-speed Internet access to people and businesses in rural and remote areas in 20 states; Additional funding will come from President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act in the coming months

WASHINGTON, September 22, 2022 – United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the department is providing $502 million in loans and grants (PDF, 221 KB) to provide high-speed Internet access to residents and rural businesses in 20 states. The funding is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to invest in rural infrastructure and provide reliable and affordable high-speed internet for all. The USDA is making the investments under the third round of funding for the ReConnect program. The Department will make additional investments for rural broadband internet in the coming months, including funding President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, which includes a historic $65 billion investment to expand the ‘affordable high-speed Internet to all communities in the United States.

“President Biden’s commitment to bringing high-speed internet to rural communities is fundamental to ensuring that the national economy continues to grow from the bottom up and down the middle,” Vilsack said. “High-speed Internet will improve the rural economy. It will help rural businesses grow and access new markets. It will help rural residents gain access to more and better health care and educational opportunities. The USDA knows that rural America is America’s backbone, and prosperity here means prosperity for everyone.

USDA awards 32 awards in Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming . Many of the awards will help rural people and businesses on tribal lands and people in socially vulnerable communities.

As part of today’s announcement:

  • In Michigan, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians receives $25 million grant to connect 1,217 people and 26 businesses to high-speed internet in Chippewa and Mackinac counties. The tribe will make high-speed internet affordable by requiring its service provider to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Affordable Connectivity Program, which offers a rebate of up to $30 per month – or $75 per month for households on tribal lands – on household Internet bills, as well as the FCC’s Lifeline program. This project will serve Sault Ste. Marie Off-Reservation Trust Land, the Sault Ste. Marie Reservation as well as socially vulnerable communities in Chippewa and Mackinac counties.
  • Net Vision Communications LLC is receiving a $12.4 million loan to connect 4,587 people, 300 businesses, nine farms and 15 public schools to high-speed Internet in Barton County, Missouri. This project will serve socially vulnerable communities in the county.
  • Southern Plains Cable LLC in Oklahoma receives an $8.1 million loan and $8.1 million grant to deploy a fibre-to-the-premises network that will connect 7,093 people, 230 businesses, six farms and 29 high-speed Internet schools in Caddo, Comanche, Cotton and Grady counties. Southern Plains will make high-speed Internet affordable by participating in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs. This project will serve the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache-Fort Sill Apache Tribal Statistical Area as well as socially vulnerable communities in Cotton County.

The USDA has so far announced $858 million in ReConnect’s third round of funding and expects to make further investment announcements under this program in the coming weeks. Today’s announcement follows the Department’s July 28 announcement that it has invested $356 million through the ReConnect program to help very rural residents and businesses in 11 states (PDF, 192 KB) to access high-speed Internet.

Context: ReConnect program

To be eligible for ReConnect program funding, an applicant must serve an area where high-speed Internet service speeds are less than 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload). The applicant must also commit to constructing facilities capable of providing high-speed Internet service at speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to each location within its proposed service area.

To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, visit www.rd.usda.gov or contact the nearest USDA State Office of Rural Development.

Background: bipartisan infrastructure law

President Biden has forged consensus and compromise among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to demonstrate that our democracy can bring great victories to the American people. After decades of talk about rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, President Biden has introduced the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act – a historic investment in America that will change people’s lives for the better and shake things up. America again.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Act provides $65 billion to ensure that every American has access to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet through a historic investment in the deployment of broadband infrastructure. The legislation also lowers the costs of internet services and helps bridge the digital divide, so that more Americans can take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by internet access.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunity, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This aid supports the improvement of infrastructure; Business development; lodging; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed Internet access in rural, tribal and very poor areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming the US food system with greater emphasis on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe food, healthy and nutritious in all communities, creating new markets and income streams for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in clean energy infrastructure and capacity in the rural America, and committing to equity across the department by removing systemic barriers and creating a workforce that is more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

If you would like to subscribe to USDA rural development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

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The USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.