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USDA Partners with Telephone Cooperative to Bring Broadband Infrastructure to Rural Areas

Patrick Mason
Release Date

LEXINGTON, Ky., Nov. 13, 2018 – Kentucky State Director for Rural Development Hilda Legg announced today a $3 million grant investment for the West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative.

   “Broadband is the next step for infrastructure expansion in rural America,” stated Legg. “Rural Development promotes innovation through digital infrastructure and extensive community partnerships. These digital highways provide underserved communities direct access to educational, telemedicine, and e-commerce opportunities.”

   Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is investing in infrastructure projects in a dozen states to improve e-Connectivity in rural communities.

   “In today’s fast-paced global economy, prosperity is increasingly linked to e-Connectivity,” Hazlett said. “That is why USDA is partnering with rural communities to expand access to broadband. It is vital to the economy and to the quality of life in rural America.” 

   According to a 2018 report by the Federal Communications Commission, 80 percent of the 24 million American households who lack reliable, affordable, high-speed internet are in rural areas. USDA’s investments in broadband infrastructure are helping transform rural America, providing innovation and technology to increase economic competitiveness and opportunities.

   USDA is investing $91 million through the Telecommunications Programs. The projects will benefit more than 27,000 businesses and households in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.

   The West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative is receiving a $3 million grant to construct a fiber-to-the-home broadband system providing state-of-the-art services to 406 unserved homes and businesses in Weakley County, Tennessee. A new community center will also be constructed where residents can access seven computer terminals and Wi-Fi, free of charge. This project will allow the residents and businesses in this area to access high quality voice, video, and broadband services so that it will be easier for them to access the economic, health care, educational, and quality of life opportunities these services enable. West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative, headquartered in Graves County, provides advanced telecommunications services to 22 exchanges in Kentucky and Tennessee. The company will expand its system to this new community while contributing $450,000 to help complete the project.

    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 key 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 facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.