(FierceTelecom) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) dished out more funding for rural broadband, awarding more than $119 million in loans and grants for projects in 19 states.
The money was distributed as part of a $5.2 billion investment the USDA made to boost rural infrastructure projects. The figure included $48.6 million in Community Connect grants for broadband deployments and $71.1 million in loans for telecom infrastructure rollouts.
“When we invest in rural infrastructure, we invest in the livelihoods and health of people in rural America,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “The investments we are announcing today will drive the creation of good-paying union jobs and grow the economy sustainably and equitably so that everyone gets ahead for decades to come.
Sierra Telephone Company secured the largest of the telecom loans, bagging $40.2 million for work in California. The second largest ($17.2 million) went to The Ponderosa Telephone Company, again for a project in California. Loans were also handed out for work in New Mexico and Indiana.
Grants were doled out to companies for projects spanning 17 states. Bay Springs Telephone Company received $3 million for a build in Mississippi, as did Pioneer Telephone Company for work in Oregon. Funding in the same amount was handed to iGo Technology for a deployment in Virginia; Scott County Telephone Cooperative for work in Virginia and Tennessee; and the Public Utility District 1 Lewis County for a project in the state of Washington.
The USDA’s Community Connect grant program is designed to facilitate broadband deployments in areas served with speeds of 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream or less. Funding recipients must deliver speeds of at least 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up.
Between 2013 and 2020, the program distributed more than $160 million. Oklahoma has received the largest amount of support from the program at more than $30 million, followed by Virginia at more than $20 million, Tennessee, North Dakota and Minnesota.
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