KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced nearly $247.9 million in funding for telecommunications projects that will improve broadband service to rural residents and businesses in 11 states. This funding, which is part of the $690 million investment from USDA's Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program during fiscal year 2010, will finance over 16,000 miles of fiber to the home (FTTH), bringing high speed internet service to rural areas. Vilsack made this announcement at the annual convention for the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.
"USDA's investment in telecommunications services will continue to meet the growing needs of homeowners and business in rural America as we continue striving to spur economic activity and job creation," Vilsack said. "These loans help provide the level of financial assistance required to deliver healthcare, educational, social and financial services to benefit rural economies."
Administered by USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS), this infrastructure financing is in addition to the $3.5 billion in broadband funding RUS awarded for rural broadband projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The telecommunications infrastructure program funds facilities and equipment for upgrades, expansion, maintenance, and replacement of rural networks. RUS funded approximately $537 million in FTTH projects during fiscal year 2010.
For example, in Kansas, a $10.2 million loan for South Central Telephone Association, Inc. will be used to deploy 192 new route miles of fiber and copper cable. These upgrades will improve service for rural residents and businesses and help the systems meet current and future telecommunications requirements.
In South Dakota, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority, a telephone company wholly owned by Native Americans, received a $37.9 million loan. The financing will enable them to complete a total fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) build out, which will bring broadband to homes and businesses in their service area.
Funding of each recipient is contingent upon their meeting the conditions of the loan agreement. A complete list of the rural utilities that were selected for funding is listed below:
• Cordova Telephone Cooperative, Inc.; $10,750,000 loan
• Southwest Arkansas Tel. Coop., Inc. $22,418,000 loan
• Interstate 35 Telephone Company $7,090,000 loan
• South Central Telephone Assoc., Inc. $10,215,000 loan
• Garden Valley Telephone Company $34,177,000 loan
• Central Montana Communications, Inc.; $38,793,000 loan
• Southern Montana Telephone Company; $5,544,000 loan
Montana & Wyoming
• Range Telephone Cooperative, Inc.; $18,000,000 loan
• Reservation Telephone Cooperative $32,322,000 loan
• Tularosa Basin Telephone Co., Inc.; $8,572,000 loan
• Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority; $37,870,000 loan
• Nelson Telephone Cooperative; $22,132,000 loan
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and nearly 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of nearly $142 billion in guaranteed loans and guaranteed loan guarantees.