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USDA Invests $1.9 Million to Improve Broadband Service in North Carolina

Garland Burnette
Release Date

Rural Development State Director for North Carolina Robert Hosford today announced that USDA is investing $1.9 million to provide or improve rural broadband in North Carolina

    “We know that rural communities need access to reliable broadband,” said Hosford. “This technology will provide residents in Columbus County with access to quality economic, social, and educational opportunities.”

   USDA is making the investment 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.

    Wilkes Telephone Membership Corporation will use a $1.9 million grant to construct a 42.65-mile Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network passing 347 households located in the Fair Bluff County and Columbus County, N.C. service area. This network will support service at levels up to 1 Gbps for each subscriber. This broadband network will provide significant benefits to Columbus County by improving their economy, access to education and quality of life. A community center will be provided where residents can access the internet free of charge for at least two years.

    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.