Funding is Part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda
HILO HAWAII, Aug. 22, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced nearly $700 million in grants and loans to connect thousands of rural residents, farmers and business owners in 22 states, including $25 million grant for the Marshall Islands, for reliable, affordable high-speed internet through the ReConnect Program, funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This program is uniquely designed to fund the most difficult high-speed internet projects in the nation, which are the most rural, remote and unserved communities.
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.
“Keeping the people of rural America connected with reliable, high-speed internet brings new and innovative ideas to the rest of our country and creates good-paying jobs along the way,” Secretary Vilsack said. “Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are connecting rural communities to a global marketplace. These investments will support economic growth and prosperity for generations to come.”
According to USDA Rural Development Hawaii/Western Pacific State Director Chris Kanazawa, the grant for the Marshall Islands will greatly improve the quality of life for the island communities. “We are extremely grateful that the Marshall Islands is receiving this vital grant of $25 million to bring their respective rural island residents into the 21st century,” said Kanazawa. “We take it for granted here in Hawaii that we have high-speed connectivity for so many vital applications such as education, emergency services and entertainment. It’s a welcome relief the Marshall Islands will be getting connected,” Kanazawa concluded.
Today’s high-speed internet investments are part of the fourth funding round of the ReConnect Program. Many residents and businesses in rural areas would not have high-speed internet service without the ReConnect Program, as the program is a key part of the Administration’s Internet for All initiative to connect everyone in America to high-speed internet by 2030.
Today’s announcement includes $667 million in USDA investments in Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the Marshall Islands.
Today’s announcement includes several investments that will benefit people living in Rural Partners Network (RPN) communities. RPN works with hundreds of federal, state and local partners to address specific needs in rural communities that have long struggled to access government programs and funding. RPN helps these communities carry out locally driven plans to create jobs, build infrastructure and support economic growth and stability.
This announcement includes:
- The Marshall Islands National Telecommunications Authority grant of $25 million will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises and fixed wireless (licensed) network to provide high-speed internet. This network will benefit 6,402 people and three educational facilities on the Kwajalein Atoll and Majuro Atoll in the Republic of Marshall Islands. Marshall Islands National Telecommunications Authority will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Affordable Connectivity Program. This project will serve socially vulnerable communities on Kwajalein and Majuro.
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.
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.
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