Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Rural Broadband Projects to Bring Economic Opportunity to Communities in Eight States


WASHINGTON, March 23, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of broadband infrastructure projects to give rural residents in 8 states access to improved economic and educational opportunities. Funding for the projects is being provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

            “The broadband projects announced today will give rural Americans access to the tools they need to attract new businesses, educational opportunities and jobs,” Vilsack said. “The Obama Administration understands that bringing broadband to rural America provides a gateway for businesses and key anchor institutions – such as libraries, schools, public buildings and community centers to provide services to thousands of Americans.  These projects will create jobs building these networks, and the completed systems will provide a platform for rural economic growth for years to come.”

In all, $150 million will be invested in 12 projects through funding made available by Congress in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  An additional $68.2 million in private investment will be provided in matching funds, bringing the total funds invested to $218.2 million. To date, $1.05 billion has been provided to construct 67 broadband projects in 30 states and one territory.

For example, in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, the Tohono O’odham Utility Authority (TOUA) has been selected to receive a $3.6 million loan and a $3.6 million grant to design, engineer and construct a digital network to replace dial-up service.  This project will provide services throughout the Tohono O’odham Reservation using Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) and fixed wireless broadband. 

Also, in the rural towns of Madison and Lamont, Kan., Madison Telephone, LLC (MTC) was selected to receive a $3.5 million loan and a $3.5 million grant to design, engineer and construct an FTTP network. This project will improve the existing copper-based network that currently limits average customer service speeds. MTC will upgrade this network to FTTP facilities and technologies, thereby eliminating this last mile limitation.

Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement. A complete list of recent Recovery Act broadband award recipients by state is below:

Alaska

  • Copper Valley Wireless, Inc.: The Cordova, Alaska, Microwave Project; $1,747,796 loan and $1,747,795 grant. The funding will extend middle-mile connectivity from Naked Island to Cordova.

 

Arizona

  • Tohono O’odham Utility Authority: The Fiber Route – Middle Mile Project; $3,565,900 loan and $3,565,900 grant. The funding will enable high-speed DSL services throughout the reservation with Fiber-to-the-Premises and fixed wireless broadband in certain areas. 

 

Illinois

  • Norlight Telecommunications, Inc.: The Rural High-Speed Ethernet Network – Southern Illinois Project; $14,230,375 loan, $8,538,224 grant and  $5,692,151 of private investment. The funding will provide more than 1,600 miles of middle-mile fiber-optic network throughout 24 southern counties to deliver high-speed Ethernet connectivity.

 

Kansas

  • South Central Telephone Association, Inc.: The Lake City & Sun City Rural Fiber-to-the-House (FTTH) Project; $871,200 grant, and $3,550,800 of private investment. The funding will provide FTTH broadband service to all unserved establishments in the telephone exchanges of Lake and Sun City.

 

  • Madison Telephone, LLC: The Madison-Lamont Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) Project; $3,519,750 loan, $3,519,750 grant and $763,634 of private investment. The funding will provide FTTP last-mile broadband service to exchange areas, including the Kansas telephone exchanges of Madison and Lamont.

 

  • J.B.N. Telephone Company, Inc.: The West Cluster Plus Barnes Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) Project; $5,489,250 loan, $5,489,250 grant, and $3,697,619 of private investment. The funding will provide FTTP broadband service throughout seven western exchanges (West Cluster) and the Barnes exchange (Barnes).

 

Minnesota

  • Northeast Service Cooperative: The Northeast Minnesota Middle Mile Project; $21,749,110 loan and $21,749,110 grant. The funding will provide middle-mile, dark fiber, wavelength services to private-sector providers in rural areas of northeast Minnesota.
  • ·
  • Minnesota Valley Television Improvement Corporation: The Minnesota Wireless Expansion Project; $562,776 loan and $562,776 grant, and $281,388 of private investment. The funding will provide a two-way broadband internet network to unserved and underserved areas of west central and south central Minnesota, providing 34 additional wireless (WiMAX) access points.

 

North Dakota

  • Dakota Central Telecom 1 (DCT1): The Dakota Central Telecom l Project; $2,252,250 grant, and $2,499,597 of private investment. The funding will provide Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband services to households, businesses and key community organizations in portions of the Streeter and Gackle exchanges that are currently unserved.

 

Oklahoma

  • Pioneer Long Distance, Inc.: The Western Oklahoma Wireless (WOW) Project; $1,819,349 loan and $1,783,322 grant. The funding will provide wireless broadband service to unserved and underserved rural areas in western Oklahoma.

 

  • Panhandle Telephone Cooperative, Inc.: The Western Oklahoma Broadband Infrastructure Development Project; $3,366,188 loan, $10,098,562 grant, and $23,297,597 of private investment. The funding will provide a broadband infrastructure to rural areas within the western Oklahoma panhandle area.

 

Texas

  • Wes-Tex Telephone Cooperative, Inc.: The Western Texas Broadband Infrastructure Development Project; $16,891,875 loan, $16,891,875 grant and $28,417,425 of private investment. The funding will provide a broadband infrastructure to increase Internet availability and access speeds in rural areas of western Texas.

 

            President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law on Feb. 17, 2009.  It is designed to jumpstart the nation’s economy, create or save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century.  The Act includes measures to modernize our nation’s infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.

            More information about USDA’s Recovery Act efforts is available at www.usda.gov/recovery . More information about the Federal government’s efforts on the Recovery Act is available at www.recovery.gov .

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