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August 22, 2014

USDA Announces Loans to Expand Broadband Accessibility in Rural Midwest



By Jyothi Shanbhag
TMCnet Contributor



Living in a rural area may be trying at times with a slow dial-up Internet connection. Unfortunately, for many people living in rural areas, dial-up Internet has been the only option.

To introduce new or improved broadband Internet service to some of the nation’s most rural areas, the Agriculture Department has recently granted almost $40 million in loans this month.

Funded through the USDA Rural Utilities Service’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program, residents in Minnesota, North Dakota and Texas can now dream of getting reliable, high-speed rural Internet access.

Back in 2010, a multi-million dollar grant was made to introduce fiber-to-the-premises service to central North Dakota and now the USDA has granted an additional $4.7 million loan to bring the similar service to two towns in the eastern part of the state.

A small share of that money will also go to Griggs County to deploy fiber-to-the-premises in Binford and Cooperstown, N.D. Griggs County also will use loan funds to make improvements in the system's four exchanges. The project will provide expanded voice, video and data services to 682 subscribers.

Thanks to this funding, the telephone association can now complete the fiber-to-the-premises network project that covers 10,000 square miles and reaches roughly 18,000 homes, offering voice, video and high-speed data services to the subscribers.

This funding is part of the Obama Administration's dream for stronger rural economies, which are vital to building a more prosperous America.

According to Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary, access to broadband is vital to a rural community’s economic strength.

“It improves access to education and quality health care, and it leads to new jobs and business opportunities,” Vilsack said. “Broadband is part of everyday life in most of America and vital for economic success in the 21st century.”

Vilsack along with the council recently declared a $10 billion Rural Infrastructure Opportunity fund that will be soon diverted towards investments for hospitals, schools, water systems, energy projects, food systems and broadband expansion.




Edited by Alisen Downey
 
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