Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon and South Dakota will see the expansion of rural broadband offerings thanks to new loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Agriculture Secretary Vilsack said that the loans were part of the USDA’s mission to strengthen rural economies despite significant budget uncertainty in Washington.
The loans of almost $40 million come from USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to install fiber networks to improve telecommunications capability in the three recipients’ service areas. USDA’s Telecommunications Loan Program finances infrastructure that enables access to a seamless, nationwide telecommunications network.
In Iowa, the Keystone-Farmers Cooperative Telephone Company will receive a $7.6 million loan to upgrade its plant and complete a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to help meet the current and future data needs of its customers in Benton and Tama counties.
In Oregon, the Colton Telephone Company will receive a $7.3 million loan to complete an FTTP network to provide enhanced broadband services for its customers. In South Dakota and Minnesota, the Interstate Telecommunications Company, Inc. will receive a $24.9 million loan to upgrade its plant and complete an FTTP network to provide enhanced broadband services for its customers.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA has funded 557 projects in 48 states through $6.1 billion in telecommunications loan financing. CivSource has previously reported on the steady growth of rural demand for high speed broadband services, although private sector deployment of networks in these areas remains low. “Rural Americans need full access high-speed telecommunications services,” Vilsack said.