WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner has announced that nearly $30 million in loans will be provided to telecommunications firms in Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio and Texas.

The funds are provided under the USDA Rural Development's Broadband Access and Telecommunications Programs.

"Since 1949 USDA has been providing long-term financing to build and maintain communications infrastructure that is the cornerstone of rural America's telecommunications system," said Conner. "These loans continue a long tradition of ensuring that rural residents fully participate in commercial and educational opportunities that can be provided only by reliable broadband and telecommunications services."

USDA Rural Development's Telecommunications program creates public-private partnerships to finance the construction of telecommunications infrastructure in rural America. Rural Development makes loans to finance the improvement, expansion, construction, or acquisition of telecommunications facilities in rural areas.

For example, in Iowa, a $4,489,000 loan will be provided to the Cooperative Telephone Exchange of Stanhope to connect new subscribers and deploy new fiber to the home system in Hamilton and Boone counties that will enable subscribers to receive the full range of high speed telecommunications services.

In Joshua, Texas, Alenco Communications Inc. will receive a loan of $11,244,000 to connect new subscribers, build new distribution lines, fiber optic cable systems and install fire suppression equipment at various sites. Services will be upgraded in 15 counties.

USDA Rural Development's Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee program provides loans and loan guarantees for the construction, improvement, and acquisition of facilities and equipment for broadband service in eligible rural communities. Priority is given to applications that are proposed to serve areas where no residential broadband service currently exists. The program was authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill and 62 loans for more than $1.1 billion have been made since the program was created.

The McClure Telephone Company of McClure, Ohio, will receive a $6,167,000 Broadband loan to construct a fiber to the home system throughout their exchange in Henry County, providing service to 245 data, 808 voice and 256 video subscribers.

The Monticello and Wayne County Telecommunications Board in Monticello, Ky., will receive a $7,599,000 loan to connect almost 1,800 new data subscribers, provide voice over Internet service to over 2,000 subscribers and replace analog cable TV systems with a fiber-to-the-home system.

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

SOURCE: USDA news release.