Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Administrator John Padalino today announced funding for three rural telecommunications companies that will expand and improve broadband service in rural Texas, North Dakota and Iowa. USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of USDA’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy. Padalino made the announcement while attending the annual National Rural Economic Developers Association meeting in Austin.
“These loans will provide these companies with telecommunications services that are essential to continued economic development in rural America,” Padalino said. “Broadband gives rural residents greater access to educational, health care, business and social services through the Internet, and it connects them to the global community. As part of the Obama Administration’s goal to improve rural infrastructure, we are proud to fund projects like these.”
USDA provides loan and grant financing to rural utilities for broadband, electric, telephone and water and waste disposal services to help them expand and modernize their technology.
Today’s broadband funding announcement will improve Internet services for 37,000 homes and businesses. It will provide more than $30.5 million to install fiber infrastructure upgrades to the existing networks to improve telecommunications services in these three states. USDA funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.
- Ganado Telephone Company, Inc., in Ganado, Texas, will receive a $6,575,000 loan to complete a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) system in the town of Ganado, replace outdated copper components within the system and make other system improvements. The fiber transmission upgrades will provide customers with increased Internet data speed.
- Keystone-Farmers Cooperative Telephone Company, in Keystone, Iowa, will receive a $7,648,000 loan to upgrade its outside plant and network infrastructure to Fiber-to-the-Premises architecture, and make other system improvements. FTTP capability will provide Keystone customers with voice, multi-media and high-speed data services. The project is expected to stimulate economic development and create job opportunities in this rural, predominantly agricultural area.
- SRT Communications, Inc., of Minot, N.D., will receive a $16,283,000 loan to upgrade its Fiber-to-the-Premises infrastructure to deliver higher-value services and enhanced broadband capability to its customers in the service area. SRT is North Dakota’s largest telephone cooperative, serving 26 exchanges in the Drift Prairie region.
According to Administrator Padalino, today’s announcement is also yet another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy – and he said that’s just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act.
USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.