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Biden-Harris Administration Announces Over $700 Million to Connect People in Rural Areas to High-Speed Internet

Phil Eggman
Release Date

Funding Part of Investing in America Agenda, including $77.1 Million Impacting Four Counties in Washington State

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $714 million in grants and loans to connect thousands of rural residents, farmers and business owners in 19 states, including Washington, to reliable, affordable high-speed internet. Connecting all communities across the United States to high-speed internet is central part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to rebuild our economy from the bottom up and middle out by rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, which is driving over $470 billion in private sector manufacturing investments and creating good-paying jobs.

“High-speed internet is a key to prosperity for people who live and work in rural communities,” Secretary Vilsack said. “Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can ensure that rural communities have access to the internet connectivity needed to continue to expand the economy from the bottom up and middle out and to make sure rural America remains a place of opportunity to live, work, and raise a family.”Under the President’s Investing in America agenda, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes $65 billion to connect everyone to high-speed internet through the Internet for All initiative. USDA is connecting more people to high-speed internet in this fourth funding round of the ReConnect Program. Since the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration, the Department has invested in 142 ReConnect projects that will bring high-speed internet access to 314,000 rural Americans.

Today’s announcement includes $77.1 million in USDA investments in four Washington State counties: Jefferson, Klickitat, Lewis, and Snohomish.  

For example,

  • Public Utility District (PUD) No.1 of Jefferson County receive $13.8 million to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network that will benefit 1,295 people, 33 businesses and six farms in Jefferson County.
  • Home Telephone Company (HTC) will receive $36 million to build a hybrid-fiber-coax network that will benefit 4,183 people, 138 businesses, 74 farms and seven educational facilities in Klickitat County.
  • Public Utility District (PUD) 1 of Lewis County will receive $24.2 million to continue to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network that will benefit 2,863 people, 119 businesses, 487 farms and four educational facilities in Lewis County.
  • Hat Island Telephone Company will receive a $2.9 million ReConnect Grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network that will benefit 93 people, six businesses and one farm in Snohomish County.

"These are huge federal investments to help local providers improve lives," said Helen Price Johnson, State Director for USDA Rural Development in Washington State. “Too many people in rural America and on tribal lands have been left out of the digital economy, for far too long. Connectivity is the great equalizer. It opens the world’s marketplace to our rural businesses and Tribal communities.

“This is great news and will expand opportunities for education, health care and jobs across our state,” she added.

A full listing of projects from today’s announcement can be found here.

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 towards 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.

To learn more about investment resources for rural areas in Washington State, visit www.rd.usda.gov/wa.