Arkansas, Montana, and New Mexico are all expanding local broadband access with new networks and funding.
Arkansas is spending $65 million to upgrade speeds on its education network by as much as 40x. The overhaul will also include expansion of service to rural and underserved schools in the state system. School officials say that the upgrade is necessary to meet the demands of online standardized testing.
In Montana, $30 million will go to improving broadband access for rural residents in the state. USDA announced a loan to Triangle Telephone Cooperative Association to upgrade their system with fiber to supply greater bandwidth to increase speed and the quality of service for their rural Montana subscribers. The loan is part of a broader round of rural broadband funding from USDA totaling $74.8 million.
The Triangle Cooperative represents 16 counties in central Montana.
“Broadband is fundamental to expanding economic opportunity and job creation in rural areas, and it is as vital to rural America’s future today as electricity was when USDA began bringing power to rural America 80 years ago,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack of the loans.
Finally, in New Mexico, a $64 million project to bring broadband service to the Northern half of the state was completed on Friday. Funding for the project came from the stimulus bill – the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
The 2,400-mile broadband network will serve more than 20,500 households, 3,600 businesses, 183 community institutions, according to a statement on the project.