WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 27, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Department is providing $759 million to bring high-speed internet access to people living and working across 24 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and Palau. Today’s investments include funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a historic $65 billion to expand reliable, affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S.
“People living in rural towns across the nation need high-speed internet to run their businesses, go to school and connect with their loved ones,” Vilsack said. “USDA partners with small towns, local utilities and cooperatives, and private companies to increase access to high-speed internet so people in rural America have the opportunity to build brighter futures. Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is committed to making sure that people, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet. That’s how you grow the economy – not just in rural communities, but across the nation.”
USDA Rural Development State Director Patricia Dominguez added, “This funding investment in rural communities is a move to bring equity to areas in New Mexico that have been left out of the digital economy. And now all residents regardless of where they live, will have access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet to learn and thrive.”
The $759 million in loans and grants comes from the third funding round of the ReConnect Program.
As part of today’s announcement, Rural Development is investing over $108 million to upgrade and expand broadband projects to the following New Mexico companies:
- Kit Carson Electric will receive a $23.6 million dollar grant to install a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 2,693 people, 42 businesses, 34 farms and eight educational facilities to high-speed internet in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Inc. will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC's Affordable Connectivity and the Lifeline programs.
- Leaco Rural Telephone Cooperative Inc. based in Hobbs will receive a $24.9 million dollar grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 2,970 people and 56 businesses to high-speed internet in Chaves and Lea counties in New Mexico. Leaco Rural Telephone Cooperative Inc. will make high-speed internet affordable by implementing the FCC's Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs. This project will serve socially vulnerable communities in Chaves County.
- Western New Mexico Telephone Company Inc. based in Silver City will receive a $34.8 million dollar grant to install a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 678 people, 10 businesses and a farm to high-speed internet in Catron, Grant, and Hidalgo counties in New Mexico. Western New Mexico Telephone Company will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC's Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs.
- WNM Communications Corporation also based in Silver City will receive a $24.9 million grant to make available a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 3,093 people, 30 businesses, five farms and four educational facilities to high-speed internet in Grant and Luna counties. WNM Communications Corporation will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC's Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs. This project will serve socially vulnerable communities in Luna County.
USDA is making 49 awards in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, Puerto Rico, Guam and Palau. This list includes awards to The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, and the utility authorities for the Navajo Nation and the Tohono O’odham Nation. Many of the awards will help rural people and businesses on Tribal lands.
So far this year, the Department has announced $1.6 billion from the third round of ReConnect funding.
Background: ReConnect Program
To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant must serve an area that does not have access to service at speeds of 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 with 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.
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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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.