Steeleville, Ill., Sept. 29, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Farah Ahmad today announced that USDA is awarding $25 million to Egyptian Telephone Cooperative Association to provide high-speed internet access for rural residents and businesses in southern Illinois. This is part of a $502 million investment across 20 states Secretary Vilsack made last week.
“Ensuring people in rural communities have high-speed internet brings new and innovative ideas to the rest of our country,” Ahmad said. “This funding to Egyptian Telephone Cooperative will help rural people, businesses and farms in southern Illinois get connected, expanding their access to high-paying jobs, educational opportunities, and new economic markets.”
Egyptian Telephone will deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 1,140 people, 22 businesses and 84 farms to high-speed internet in Jackson and Randolph counties.
The funding is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to investing in rural infrastructure and providing reliable, affordable, high-speed internet for all. USDA is making the investments through the third funding round of the ReConnect Program. The Department will make additional investments for rural high-speed internet in the coming months, including 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.
USDA has announced $858 million in the third round of ReConnect funding so far. Prior to last week’s awards, USDA announced on July 28 that it was investing $356 million through the ReConnect Program to help very rural residents and businesses in 11 states gain access to high-speed internet.
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 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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