WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced today that Open Range Communications has finalized a $267 million loan agreement with USDA Rural Development to provide broadband service to 518 rural communities in 17 states.

"The completed agreement brings millions of rural Americans closer to having access to broadband and other cutting-edge communications technologies," Schafer said. "This kind of high-speed internet connectivity will lead to increased investment and business opportunities in rural communities."

The loan closing executes an agreement USDA Rural Development announced on March 25, 2008, when it approved a $267 million loan to Open Range. In addition to the USDA Rural Development loan, Open Range has secured $100 million in financing from One Equity Partners, the private equity arm of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Open Range, headquartered near Denver, Colo., plans to use Wi-Max technology to offer affordable, wireless broadband service. In addition, the company will offer satellite services enabling rural residents to connect to the internet almost anywhere in the country. Open Range will provide services to rural communities in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents.