The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced yesterday that the Biden-Harris Administration is delivering nearly $100 million to connect thousands of rural Alaskans to reliable, affordable high-speed internet. Senior Advisor to the President and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu joined Congresswoman Mary Peltola in Anchorage, Alaska today to highlight the announcement, which is part of a nationwide rollout of $667 million in loans and grants to connect thousands of rural residents, farmers and business owners in 22 states and the Marshall Islands under USDA’s ReConnect program.
“Access to high-speed internet is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessity to participate in today’s society. Now, thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we’re making sure that rural communities across Alaska have access to high-speed internet and can connect with their loved ones, tap into economic opportunities, and engage in precision agriculture. As this Administration grows the economy from the bottom up and middle out, we’re delivering historic funding to ensure rural America remains a great place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Senior Advisor to President Biden and White House Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu.
“USDA Rural Development works alongside Tribes, municipalities, and telecommunication companies to connect remote and rural communities to high-speed internet as quickly as we can,” said USDA Rural Development State Director for Alaska Julia Hnilicka. “I am deeply proud of the partnerships created through USDA’s ReConnect program and humbled by the passion Alaskans have for working together toward a common goal. Alaskans deserve affordable, reliable high-speed internet, not only for students to learn and thrive, but also for entrepreneurs to access the global marketplace. These investments are just one example of how the Biden-Harris Administration’s unprecedented push for equity is providing rural Alaskans with enormous opportunities.”
Today’s announcement includes three projects in Alaska:
- Bush-Tell Inc. will use a $29.9 million ReConnect grant to connect 697 people, 38 businesses and seven educational facilities to high-speed internet in the Yukon-Koyukuk Delta. This project will serve the villages of Aniak, Upper Kalskag, Lower Kalskag,Crooked Creek, Red Devil, Sleetmute, Stony River, Holy Cross, Anvik, Shageluk and Grayling.
- Unicom Incorporated will use a $35 million ReConnect grant to connect 1,472 people, 22 businesses and two educational facilities to high-speed internet in the Kusilvak Census Area. This project will serve the Emmonak, Toksook Bay and Tununak Alaska Native Village areas.
- Cordova Telephone Cooperative Inc. will use a $34.9 million ReConnect grant to connect 28 people, eight businesses and one educational facility to high-speed internet in the Hoonah-Angoon Census Area.
Connecting all communities across the United States to high-speed internet is a central part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to rebuild the economy from the bottom up and middle out by rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. This agenda is driving more than $500 billion in private-sector manufacturing investments, rebuilding America’s infrastructure, lowering costs, and creating good-paying jobs. And it’s transforming our country for the better – reaching communities in every corner of the United States, including those that have too often been left behind.
All three projects serve communities in the Rural Partners Network (RPN), an all-of-government program that helps rural communities find resources and funding to create jobs, build infrastructure, and support long-term economic stability on their own terms. Community networks receive support from local USDA staff and community liaisons provide technical assistance based on each community’s needs, helping them navigate federal programs, build relationships and prepare successful applications for funding. As they traveled this summer, community liaisons heard frequently from communities throughout Alaska about the need for better internet connectivity. RPN staff share information with USDA’s Alaska telecom field representative Natalie Kovach who works directly with organizations committed to improving access to high-speed internet throughout rural Alaska.
Background: ReConnect Program
Applicants to ReConnect Program funding must serve a rural area that lacks access to service at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20 Mbps upload. Applicants must also commit to building facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service with speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in the proposed service area. Additionally, to ensure that rural households that need internet service can afford it, all awardees will be required to apply to participate in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP offers a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service to qualifying low-income households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal Lands.
Background: Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
President Biden forged consensus and compromise between Democrats, Republicans and Independents to demonstrate our democracy can deliver big wins for the American people. After decades of talk on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, President Biden delivered the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – a historic investment in America that will change people’s lives for the better and get America moving again.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $65 billion to ensure every American has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet through a historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment. The legislation also lowers costs for internet service and helps close the digital divide, so that more Americans can take full advantage of the opportunities provided by internet access.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/ak.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.