Biden-Harris Administration Provides $759 Million to Bring High-Speed Internet Access to Communities Across Rural America
Funding Includes Over $8 million in Awards to Projects in Mississippi Made Possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
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.
“It’s crucial that rural communities in Mississippi get access to high-speed internet in order to compete with those in more urban areas and the rest of the world,” said Dr. Trina N. George, State Director for Rural Development in Mississippi. “Whether you’re a student, a small business owner, or a health-care facility trying to better serve patients, high-speed connectivity is vital to increasing access to opportunities. 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.”
The $759 million in loans and grants comes from the third funding round of the ReConnect Program. Two projects in Mississippi were among the funding recipients in today’s announcement:
- The Decatur Telephone Company will use this Rural Development investment to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 1,251 people, 48 farms, 34 businesses and an educational facility to high-speed internet in Newton County in Mississippi. Decatur Telephone Company 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 Newton County.
- Sledge Telephone Company will use this Rural Development investment will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 1,115 people, 19 businesses and two educational facilities to high-speed internet in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Sledge Telephone Company Inc. will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC's Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs. Sledge Telephone Company Inc. will serve socially vulnerable communities in Sunflower County.
In 2022, 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.