The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing $759 million to bring high-speed internet access to people living and working across 24 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Palau.
The USDA is making 49 awards in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Palau.
In addition, the USDA will also make awards to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, and the utility authorities for the Navajo Nation and the Tohono O’odham Nation. Many of the awards will help people living in rural communities and businesses on Tribal lands.
“People living in rural towns across the nation need high-speed internet to run their businesses, go to school and connect with their loved ones,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “USDA partners with small towns, local utilities and cooperatives, and private companies to increase access to high-speed internet so people in rural America have the opportunity to build brighter futures.”
The investment includes President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a historic $65 billion to expand reliable, affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S.
In addition, the $759 million in loans and grants also comes from the third funding round of the ReConnect Program, which provides loans and grants to eligible rural areas for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband services. To date, the ReConnect Program has provided close to $1.6 billion in funding.
“Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is committed to making sure that people, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet. That’s how you grow the economy – not just in rural communities, but across the nation,” Vilsack said.