Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced support for telecommunications projects in seven states (Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, Montana and Oklahome) to improve broadband service to rural residents and businesses.
“Investment in broadband technology will create jobs across the country and expand opportunities for millions of Americans. Broadband provides the opportunity for rural Americans to receive improved educational services, health care, and public safety. These USDA broadband loans provide rural communities the level of financial assistance required to make them full partners in the digital age and keep them competitive on a local, national and global level,” said Vilsack.
Jonathan Adelstein, the Administrator of USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service, made the announcement on Vilsack’s behalf. He spoke today in Denver at a workshop on ways to bring broadband to unserved or underserved rural areas.
In all, USDA is announcing almost $40 million in loans for projects in Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, Montana and Oklahoma. The telephone companies and cooperatives that have been selected to receive the financing will construct more than 1,000 miles of Fiber-To-The-Premises (FTTP) systems. USDA Rural Development funded more than 16,000 miles of FTTP projects during fiscal year 2010 to upgrade, expand or replace networks and perform system maintenance.
Projects selected include an $8.7 million award to the Alhambra-Grantfork Telephone Company, in Alhambra, Ill., to build an FTTP system and make system improvements to serve new and existing consumers.
Woodhull Telephone Company, in Woodhull, Ill., has been selected for a $3.4 million loan to lay 111 miles of fiber optic cable. In southwest Oklahoma, the Medicine Park Telephone Company has been selected for a $4.2 million loan to lay 41 new miles of fiber and copper cable in two subdivisions and finance digital equipment for improved central office switching. The funding also will be used to purchase excavation equipment and five acres of land where a warehouse will be constructed.
Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement. A complete list of utilities that were selected for funding is below:
- Pembroke Telephone Company, Inc.; $11,954,000
- Alhambra-Grantfork Telephone Company; $8,775,000
- Woodhull Telephone Company; $3,403,000
- Oneida Telephone Company; $2,619,000
- Minburn Telephone Company; $2,921,000
- Zenda Telephone Company, Inc.; $2,950,000
- Reservation Telephone Cooperative; $2,293,000
- Medicine Park Telephone Company; $4,236,000
USDA has a long history of supporting rural broadband projects. For example, in 2008, Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks Telephone Cooperative received a Rural Development loan to provide Fiber-To-The-Home broadband services. As a result, Spruce Knob was one of the first telephone companies in West Virginia to offer broadband service to all of its subscribers.
Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of nearly $149 billion in loans and loan guarantees. Visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov for additional information about the agency’s programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.