NASHVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 22, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Department is awarding $502 million in loans and grants to provide high-speed internet access for rural residents and businesses in 20 states. The funding is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to investing in rural infrastructure and providing reliable, affordable, high-speed internet for all. USDA is making the investments through the third funding round of the ReConnect Program. The Department will make additional investments for rural high-speed internet in the coming months, including funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S. Tennessee State Director Arlisa Armstrong is pleased to announce that $11.6 million will be invested in rural middle Tennessee.
“Our commitment to bring affordable high-speed internet to Tennessee guarantees that our rural communities will continue to grow,” Armstrong said. “We are pleased to partner with DeKalb Telephone Cooperative to offer much needed high-speed internet to the residents of DeKalb, Cannon, Smith, and Rutherford counties.”
USDA is making 32 awards in Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Wyoming. Many of the awards will help rural people and businesses on Tribal lands and people in socially vulnerable communities.
- DeKalb Telephone Cooperative Inc. is receiving an $11.6 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network. This network will connect 6,056 people, 74 businesses, five schools, and 373 farms to high-speed internet in DeKalb, Cannon, Smith, and Rutherford counties. The DeKalb Telephone Cooperative will make high-speed internet affordable by participation in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs to provide low-cost internet to its service area.
USDA has announced $858 million in the third round of ReConnect funding so far and plans to make more investment announcements under this program in the coming weeks. Today’s announcement follows the Department’s July 28 announcement that it has invested $356 million through the ReConnect Program to help very rural residents and businesses in 11 states gain access to high-speed internet.
Background: ReConnect Program
To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant must serve an area where high-speed internet service speeds are lower than 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload). The applicant must also commit to building facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service at speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in its proposed service area.
To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, visit www.rd.usda.gov or contact the nearest USDA Rural Development state office.
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.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
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