U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $714 million in grants and loans to connect thousands of rural residents, farmers and business owners in 19 states to reliable, affordable high-speed internet.
“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,” Secretary Vilsack said.
Today’s announcement includes three projects and more than $82 million to improve access to high speed internet for rural Alaskans.
“USDA Rural Development is working alongside Tribes, municipalities, and telecommunication companies to connect remote and rural communities to high-speed internet as quickly as we can. I am deeply proud of the partnerships created through this incredible opportunity and humbled by the passion Alaskans have for working together towards a common goal.” said USDA State Director for Rural Development in Alaska Julia Hnilicka. “Alaskans deserve affordable, reliable high-speed internet, not only for students of all ages to learn and thrive, but also for entrepreneurs and access to new job markets. From healthcare to home-care, the unprecedented push for equity of the Biden-Harris Administration is providing rural Alaska with enormous opportunities.”
Matanuska Telecom Association Inc will use a $12,620,357 grant from Rural Development to deploy a fiber-to-the premises network to provide high-speed internet. This network will benefit 144 people, 14 businesses and one educational facility in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Matanuska Telecom Association Inc. will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs. MTA will also provide free workshops to inform community members about available assistance plans.
Interior Telephone Company will use a $34,993,700 grant from Rural Development to deploy a fiber-to-the premises network to provide high-speed internet. This network will benefit 1,601 people, 48 businesses and three educational facilities in the Nome Census Area. Interior Telephone Company will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs. This project will serve Shaktoolik, St. Michael, Stebbins, Unalakleet, and socially vulnerable communities in the Bering Straits Region.
Mukluk Telephone Company Inc. will use a $34,989,295 grant from Rural Development to deploy a fiber-to-the premises network to provide high-speed internet. This network will benefit 875 people, 30 businesses, and six educational facilities in the Nome Census Area. Mukluk Telephone Company Incorporated will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs. This project will serve Inalik and Wales Alaska Native Villages and socially vulnerable communities in the Bering Straits Region.
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.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, 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/ak.
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