Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today awarded nearly $40 million in loans for new or improved broadband service in rural parts of Minnesota, North Dakota and Texas. The loans are being funded through USDA Rural Utilities Service's Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program to finance projects to expand voice, video and data services. This funding is part of the Obama Administration's vision for stronger rural economies, which are vital to building a more prosperous America.
"Broadband is essential to the economic strength of rural communities," Vilsack said. "It improves access to education and quality health care, and it leads to new jobs and business opportunities. Broadband is part of everyday life in most of America and vital for economic success in the 21st Century. Rural America cannot be left out."
In Texas, the Community Telephone Company will use a $26.4 million loan to replace its outdated copper system with a fiber-to-the-premises network. Community Telephone also will make system improvements in its six exchanges in the north central Texas plains.
The Red River Rural Telephone Association is receiving an $8.5 million loan to construct 145 miles of buried fiber optic cable in Abercrombie, Colfax, Fairmount, Great Bend, Hankinson, Lidgerwood, Mooreton and Wyndmere in North Dakota; and in Barnesville and Rollag in Minnesota. This project will complete Red River's fiber-to-the-premises network. The upgraded system will meet current and future requirements for voice, video and high-speed data services to subscribers.
The Griggs County Telephone Company will use a $4.7 million loan to deploy fiber-to-the-premises in Binford and Cooperstown, N.D. Griggs County also will use loan funds to make improvements in the system's four exchanges. The project will provide expanded voice, video and data services to 682 subscribers.
The Dakota Central Communications Cooperative received a $2.2 million USDA broadband grant in 2010 to bring fiber-to-the-premises service to Gackle and Streeter, N.D. This network connects more than 400 rural subscribers. Thanks in part to this funding, Daktel (along with Dickey Rural Networks) has constructed what is believed to be the largest 100% fiber-to-the-home network in the United States. It covers 10,000 square miles and reaches roughly 18,000 homes.
President Obama's historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way -- strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.
USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.