State Director Clare Carlson today announced that USDA is investing over $2.8 million in grant money to construct broadband infrastructure in North Dakota. This grant will provide e-Connectivity access for 126 households in Morton County.
“Rural broadband is critical to improving quality of life and economic opportunity in North Dakota,” Carlson said. “Expanding access to e-Connectivity provides communities various resources and allows them to compete in the modern economy.”
This investment will be used to construct a fiber-to-the-home broadband system providing state-of-the-art services to Morton County homes. A community center will also be located within a facility at a local park where residents can access computer terminals and WiFi, free of charge. It will be contributed as part of BEK Communications Cooperative's (BEK) matching fund contribution.
This project will allow the residents and businesses in this area to access high quality voice, video and broadband services so that they may have easier access to the economic, health care, educational, and quality of life opportunities such services enable.
BEK, headquartered in Kidder County, provides advanced telecommunications services to 20 exchanges in South-Central North Dakota as the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC). It also provides services as a competitive local exchange carrier in several areas surrounding their ILEC exchanges with a total of approximately 9,000 customers. BEK will expand their system to this new community and contribute $549,155 to help complete the project.
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.
Through the Telecommunications Programs, USDA is investing a total of $91 million throughout the country that will benefit more than 27,000 businesses and households.
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.