BISMARCK, N.D., July 28, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director for North Dakota Erin Oban today announced that the Department is investing $18 million to provide access to high-speed internet for 1,151 rural residents and businesses across North Dakota and Montana, part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to invest in rural infrastructure and affordable high-speed internet for all. This announcement includes a group of investments from the ReConnect Program, and an award funded through USDA’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee program.
The Department will make additional investments for rural high-speed internet later this summer, including ReConnect Program 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.
“Reliable, affordable high-speed internet fosters independence and gives people the freedom to live, work, and learn regardless of age, income, or location,” said Oban. “With the help of significant investments from USDA Rural Development, our state has become a leader in the nation in broadband connectivity, yet there are still North Dakotans who lack basic access to the internet. USDA Rural Development’s ReConnect Program aims to partner with providers to expand, improve, and upgrade access to an essential and necessary service, ensuring that North Dakotans can be connected to one another and to the rest of the world no matter how rural or remote we may be.”
USDA is supporting high-speed internet investments in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas through today’s announcement. Several awards will help rural people and businesses on Tribal lands and those in socially vulnerable communities.
In North Dakota, Reservation Telephone Cooperative will use a $18,501,541 Rural Development grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network. This network will connect 1,151 people, 67 businesses, four public schools and 91 farms in Richland and Wibaux counties in Montana, and in Dunn, McKenzie and McLean counties in North Dakota. RTC will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the Federal Communications Commission's Affordable Connectivity Program. This will give eligible residents a discount of up to $30 per month. This project will serve the Fort Berthold Reservation Tribal Entity.
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 make full use of 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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