SALT LAKE CITY – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced in late fall that USDA is investing more than $200 million in infrastructure projects to bring broadband to hundreds of unserved and underserved rural communities in the U.S., including parts of rural Utah.
“Broadband infrastructure is vital to our economy and quality of life in rural America. Yet, today nearly 40 percent of rural residents and businesses lack access to the same quality service available in urban centers,” Hazlett said. “Under Secretary Perdue’s leadership, USDA is working hard to bridge this gap. From access to health care to workforce training and connection to global markets, broadband is truly a lifeline to prosperity in rural communities.”
Hazlett announced that USDA is awarding 10 loans to expand broadband in rural areas. The loans will provide new or improved broadband access for more than 71,000 residents and businesses in 74 counties in rural parts of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. In addition, nine grants are awarded in Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
In Utah, Beehive Telephone Company, Inc. is receiving a $16,687,000 loan to make system improvements in 11 of its 12 exchanges, which will allow the company to enhance its offerings, providing significantly faster broadband speeds and allowing for video services and superior voice services. Beehive Telephone Company, Inc. serves some of Utah’s most remote communities, providing telecommunications service to high cost areas, which may otherwise be unreached.
These awards are being financed through USDA’s Telecommunications Program, which has partnerships with more than 500 telecommunications providers nationwide. USDA is announcing $204 million in loans and grants today.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; homeownership; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.