OMAHA (DTN) -- USDA will invest $63 million in high-speed internet to rural areas in four states, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Thursday. Rural residents in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Mississippi will be connected to high-speed internet as part of the $65 billion Infrastructure Law, which aims to bring reliable internet to all communities across the nation.
The $63 million in grants come from the third funding round of the ReConnect Program (ReConnect Loan and Grant Program | USDA), in which USDA invested a total of $1.7 billion. Since the beginning of the program, USDA has invested $3.2 billion to bring high-speed internet access to rural communities.
The four projects included in this announcement are:
-- McDonough Telephone Cooperative in Hancock, Henderson, McDonough and Warren counties in Illinois. The $18 million grant will connect 1,583 people, 274 farms and 41 businesses to high-speed internet.
-- Alpha Enterprises Limited, Inc. in Chippewa and Mackinac counties in Michigan. The $19.5 million grant will bring fiber-to-the-premises network to 1,023 people, 19 businesses and 10 farms.
-- Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Cooperative is receiving a $10 million in grants to Hubbard, Itasca and St. Louis counties in Minnesota. The network will connect 3,529 people, 71 businesses, 35 farms and two public schools to high-speed internet.
-- Uplink Internet LLC in Coahoma, Quitman and Tunica counties in Mississippi will receive $15 million in grants to deploy fiber-to-the-premises network. This network will connect 2,340 people, 143 farms, 45 businesses and a public school to high-speed internet.
In addition, this money will serve socially vulnerable communities in these counties, which are supported by the Rural Partners Network, a government initiative that combines federal, state and local resources to address specific needs in rural and tribal communities across the nation.
"Investing in high-speed internet is a fundamental part of our partnership with rural communities," Secretary Vilsack said in the press release. "Connecting rural Americans with reliable internet brings new and innovative ideas to the rest of our country."
"Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is committed to ensuring that the people who make up the rich tapestry in rural areas have every opportunity to succeed -- and that people can find those opportunities right at home in their communities."
To be eligible for the 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 application 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.
DTN has written several rural broadband articles in recent years:
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