Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager today announced funding to expand access to broadband and telecommunications services in rural America.
"USDA and the Obama administration continue to work to ensure that rural residents have access to expanded educational, health care, business and social opportunities through robust broadband and telecommunication services, ” Tonsager said. “These funds will help modernize communications service and delivery for rural businesses and residential customers.”
Tonsager noted that in the recently completed fiscal year, USDA Rural Development has funded over $170 million in rural telecommunications projects nationwide to expand rural access to educational, health care, business and social services.
USDA Rural Development is funding 24 projects through several loan and grant programs administered by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS); Broadband, Telecommunications loans, the Community Connect grant program, and the Public Television Digital Transition.
Nearly $5 million in Community Connect grants will provide broadband to six communities currently lacking high speed Internet service. For example, in Harold, Ky., Inter Mountain Cable, Inc. will receive funds to provide broadband services to residents, businesses, and critical community facilities within the community of McCombs, Ky.
Also, Monitor Cooperative Telephone Company in Woodburn, Ore. is one of six telecommunications companies receiving loans to finance the improvement, expansion, construction, acquisition, and operation of telephone lines, facilities, or systems to furnish and improve Telecommunications service in rural areas. Monitor Cooperative received a $2,865,000 loan to build fiber-to-premises facilities capable of broadband services to all customers in the cooperative’s service area.
The following is a list of organizations that will receive funding, which is contingent upon the
recipient meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.
• Consolidated Enterprises, Inc. –$68,897,967; Funds will be used to construct fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) facilities primarily in the outer city limits of Dickinson and the adjacent rural areas in Stark County.
Community Connect Grants
• Q-Wireless, LLC,– $782,000; Funds will be used to provide broadband services to all residences, businesses, and critical community facilities within and around Mauckport, Ind., through the construction of a wireless middle-mile and access network.
• Inter Mountain Cable, Inc. — $1,059,704; Funds will be used to provide broadband services to residents, businesses, and critical community facilities within the community of McCombs, Ky., through a Hybrid Fiber-Coax Network. By connecting this network with their other networks. Inter Mountain Cable will provide a full range of broadband services.
Louisiana and Pennsylvania
• MTPCS, LLC, – $144,670; Funds will be used to upgrade MTPCS’ cellular telephone network in order to provide broadband services to residents, businesses, and critical community facilities in Evans, La. The project will also make available to all residents, free of charge for two years, a Community Center equipped with ten computer workstations with broadband Internet access.
• MTPCS, LLC, – $144,670; Funds will be used to upgrade MTPCS’ cellular telephone network in order to provide broadband services to residents, businesses, and critical community facilities in Mora, La. The project will also make available to all residents, free of charge for two years, a community center equipped with ten computer workstations with broadband Internet access.
• Scott County Telephone Co-Operative,-$1,500,000; Funds will be used for the construction of a Fiber to the Premises network. A Community Center will be made available where residents will have access to ten computer work stations, along with training and assistance. This community center will ensure that all residents in the community have access to free Internet service for at least two years.
• The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation, – $1,303,794; Funds will be used to provide broadband services to the rural community of Keller, through an optical fiber fed wireless access network. Additionally, the community center will be equipped to provide free access to computing equipment, training, and broadband services to residents for at least two years.
Public Television Digital Transition Grants
Capital Community Broadcasting, Inc, – $483,000; Funds will be used for digital master control and production equipment to complete the digital transition for the station. The new equipment will be used to provide locally originated television services and programming.
• Vincennes University– $355,000; Funds will be used for the conversion of remaining master control monitoring equipment and the station's portable, off-site equipment from analog to digital high definition TV (HDTV). The portable equipment will allow production of HDTV local programming.
• Sistema Universitario Ana G. Mendez, Inc., Puerto Rico – $210,590; Funds will be used for digital production equipment. The equipment will be used for production of local programming.
• Idaho Public Television,– $47,870; Funds will be used to build a fiber cable link from the KISU-DT transmitter building at East Butte to connect to Idaho Public Safety Community Network. This would benefit both the KISU transmitter coverage area as well as the 18 translators that serve Eastern Idaho.
Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia
• Kentucky Authority for Educational Television (KET),– $690,200; Funds will be used to replace side-mounted antennas with top-mounted antennas and associated transmission lines at two full-power public TV transmitters in far-Eastern Kentucky to allow the digital service currently delivered by KET to better replicate the original analog coverage area.
• University of Central Missouri, Mo. – $269,069; Funds will be used to upgrade the studio-to-transmitter microwave link and to purchase digital satellite receivers for master control. This equipment will support the production and broadcast of digital programming for rural central Missouri residents.
California and Oregon
• Redwood Empire Public Television, Inc.– $230,154; Funds will be used for a new digital translator and a high-definition video server.
• Maine Public Broadcasting Corporation – $750,000; Replacement of 26 analog microwave transmitters and 28 microwave receivers.
• Guam Educational Telecommunications Corporation– $4,000. Funds will be used to purchase signal monitoring equipment necessary to ensure quality of digital transmission.
Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota
• West Central Minnesota Educational Television Company– $224,000. Funds will be used to replace analog remote production equipment with equipment necessary for the digital transition.
Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans
• Kerman Telephone Company– $10,057,000. Funds will be used to construct fiber-to-home facilities in new development areas and replace existing distribution facilities.
• Foresthill Telephone Company, Inc.– $6,560,000. Funds will be used to build fiber-to-home facilities capable of providing voice, data and broadband services.
• Northwest Communications Cooperative– $9,870,000. Funds will be used to make system improvements, including fiber-to-premises facilities in six of the 16 exchanges.
• Monitor Cooperative Telephone Company– $2,865,000; Funds will be used to build fiber-to-premises facilities capable of broadband services to all customers in the borrower’s service area.
• Mid-Plains Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc. – $2,590,000; Funds will be used to convert the outdated network in select areas of the Cleta and Umbarger exchanges to a fiber-based passive optical network with GigaBit Ethernet technology.
For other examples of USDA investments in rural communities, please visit http://www.rd.usda.gov/newsroom/success-stories.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $174 billion in loans and loan guarantees. 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.