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USDA Invests $152 Million to Improve Broadband Service in 14 States

Chris Hart
Release Date

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Douglas Wilson today announced that the USDA is investing over $18 million in Illinois as a part of  the $152 million in 20 projects to provide or improve rural broadband service in 14 states.

"These are two examples of how current Telecom Coops are pushing fiber into rural areas.  The opportunities that high speed connectivity brings to communities and rural residents literally opens a new world for commerce, education, health care and more,” Wilson said.

USDA is making the investments through the Community Connect Grant Program, the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program and the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program. Investing in telecommunications infrastructure connects people to each other: businesses to customers, farmers to markets, and students to a world of knowledge. Below are examples of the projects that will receive USDA funding.

  • Egyptian Telephone Cooperative Association will use $13,827,000 to make system improvements in rural Illinois exchanges of Oakdale, Rice, St. Libory, and Venedy. Egyptian Telephone proposes to construct 304 miles of modified Fiber-to-Premises (FTTP) facilities. These improvements will give Egyptian the capability to enhance services and provide subscribers higher broadband speeds. The improvements will benefit more than 4,400 rural customers.

  • Flat Rock Telephone Cooperative Inc. will use $4,494,000 to convert a legacy copper system to an Active Ethernet (AE) Fiver-to-Premises (FTTP) network, whereby dedicated fiber(s) will connect directly from the Flat Rock CO to a subscriber’s premises. The FTTP conversion will include the entire Flat Rock exchange. At the conclusion of the build-out, Flat Rock expects to serve 436 voice and 364 Internet subscribers over an Active Ethernet FTTP platform, capable of delivering downstream/upstream speeds of 1Gb/1Gb.

The projects USDA is investing in today will help improve the quality of life in rural communities in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.