BISMARCK, N.D., Sept. 22, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Erin Oban today announced that the Department is awarding nearly $50 million in loans and grants to provide high-speed internet access for rural residents and businesses in North Dakota. 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.
“Whether it’s how friends and family stay connected to one other, how we keep ourselves informed, how students learn at school, how healthcare is delivered to patients, or how businesses provide to their customers, access to high-speed internet is an essential service, as necessary in our day-to-day lives as reliable electricity and running water,” said Oban. “USDA Rural Development is committed to improving the lives of rural Americans everywhere, and these investments of nearly $50 million in loans and grants will enhance and strengthen broadband access in some of the most difficult to reach locations and communities in North Dakota.”
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, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. Many of the awards will help rural people and businesses on Tribal lands and people in socially vulnerable communities.
In North Dakota:
Consolidated Enterprises Inc. will use a $13,814,768 grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network. This network will connect 851 people, 38 businesses, 164 farms, and one school to high-speed internet in Billings and Stark counties in North Dakota. Consolidated Enterprises will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs.
Halstad Telephone Company will use a $2,815,462 grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network. This network will connect 532 people, seven businesses, and 86 farmers to high-speed internet in Traill county. Halstad Telephone Company will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs.
Griggs County Telephone Company will use a $16,880,472 loan to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network. This network will connect 2,943 people, 99 businesses, 11 educational facilities, and 1,731 farms to high-speed internet in Ransom, Cass, and Richland counties in North Dakota.
BEK Communications Cooperative will use a $13,942,351 grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network. This will connect 1,496 people, 61 businesses, 257 farms, and four schools in Barnes, Cass, and Ransom counties in North Dakota. BEK Communications Cooperative will make high-speed internet affordable by continuing to participate in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs.
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.
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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