Investment to benefit more than 1,200 locations in socially vulnerable communities
HENDERSON, Texas, Nov. 6, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Andy Berke today visited the city of Henderson, Texas to celebrate a $25 million investment for Eastex Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (Eastex) to deliver high-speed internet service to socially vulnerable communities in Cherokee County.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring every rural community across America – like those in East Texas – has access to reliable, high-speed internet,” said Berke. “I’m excited to see Eastex break ground on this project and bring new opportunities to East Texas, so people can thrive and stay in the rural communities they love.”
Coupled with Eastex’s investment of $8.4 million, USDA’s $25 million investment through the ReConect Loan and Grant Program will help Eastex deliver high-speed internet service to approximately 1,241 locations in the socially vulnerable communities of Hudson and Maydelle within in Cherokee County.
RUS Administrator Berke, alongside Rural Development State Director for Texas Lillian Salerno, visited the Eastex Henderson office for a complete tour and later got to see first-hand what a construction site looks like to implement new high-speed internet fiber infrastructure.
Eastex will work with the communities of Maydelle and Hudson to construct 229 miles of buried fiber to deliver 1 Gbps symmetrical internet service, scalable to higher speeds in years to come. The fiber upgrades are expected to be completed over the next three calendar years.
Background: ReConnect Loan and Grant Program
To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant must serve an area that lacks 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.
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.
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