WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Biden administration announced more than $500 million in funding to provide high-speed internet access in rural communities and remote areas in 20 states, including North Carolina. Many of the awards will help rural people and businesses on tribal lands and people in socially vulnerable communities.
The funding is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to invest in rural infrastructure and provide reliable and affordable high-speed internet for all.
“High-speed Internet will improve the rural economy. It will help rural businesses grow and access new markets. It will help rural residents gain access to more and better health care and educational opportunities. The USDA knows that rural America is America’s backbone, and prosperity here means prosperity for everyone,” said United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The USDA is making the investments under the third round of funding for the ReConnect program. The Department will make additional investments for rural broadband internet in the coming months, including funding President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, which includes a historic $65 billion investment to expand the ‘affordable high-speed Internet to all communities in the United States.
“President Biden’s commitment to high-speed internet in rural communities is fundamental to ensuring the national economy continues to grow from the bottom up,” Vilsack said.
Tribal Lands Announcement
USDA awards 32 awards in Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming .
As part of today’s announcement:
· In Michigan, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa receives $25 million grant to connect 1,217 people and 26 businesses to high-speed internet in Chippewa and Mackinac counties. The tribe will make high-speed internet affordable by requiring its service provider to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Affordable Connectivity Program, which offers a rebate of up to $30 per month – or $75 per month for households on tribal lands – on household Internet bills, as well as the FCC’s Lifeline program. This project will serve Sault Ste. Marie Off-Reservation Trust Land, the Sault Ste. Marie Reservation as well as socially vulnerable communities in Chippewa and Mackinac counties.
· Net Vision Communications LLC receives $12.4 million loan to connect 4,587 people, 300 businesses, nine farms and 15 public schools to high-speed Internet in Barton County, Missouri. This project will serve socially vulnerable communities in the county.
Southern Plains Cable LLC of Oklahoma receives $8.1 million loan and $8.1 million grant to deploy fibre-to-the-premises network that will connect 7,093 people, 230 businesses, six farms and 29 high-speed Internet schools in Caddo, Comanche, Cotton and Grady counties. Southern Plains will make high-speed Internet affordable by participating in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs. This project will serve the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache-Fort Sill Apache Tribal Statistical Area as well as socially vulnerable communities in Cotton County.
The USDA has so far announced $858 million in ReConnect’s third round of funding and expects to make further investment announcements under this program in the coming weeks. Today’s announcement follows the department’s July 28 announcement that it has invested $356 million through the ReConnect program to help very rural residents and businesses in 11 states get internet access. broadband.
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