USDA releases $85.8M in funding for rural broadband projects in 7 states

The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has put forward an additional $85 million in funding that it says is dedicated to increasing broadband Internet access in seven states. This funding consists of $74.8 million in telecom loans and $11 million in Community Connect grants. 

Among the states taking advantage of the telecom loans were independent telcos in Minnesota, Montana, and Wisconsin. In Minnesota, two telcos gained funding for broadband projects: Garden Valley Telephone was given a $12.6 million loan to build out fiber and electronics upgrades to improve broadband connectivity, while Consolidated Telephone obtained a $12.3 million loan to increase bandwidth and to add network infrastructure, including a new fiber ring.

Over in South Carolina, FTC Communications will use a $12.38 million loan to upgrade its wireless network to LTE. Montana's Triangle Telephone Cooperative Association will use a $30 million loan to upgrade its system with fiber. In Wisconsin, LaValle Telephone Cooperative will deploy fiber and replace a switch thanks to a $7.61 million loan. 

Four telcos in Alaska, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Virginia took Community Connect grants. Alaska's Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative received $1.4 million, Minnesota's Northeast Service Cooperative was given $6 million, Oklahoma's @Link Services got $1.5 million, and Virginia's Scott County Telephone Cooperative was awarded a $2.1 million grant.  

Since 2009, USDA has awarded 74 Community Connect grants totaling more than $77 million to build broadband projects in rural areas that previously had no broadband service. USDA said that nearly $20 million of those funds were to provide broadband service in tribal areas and communities of Alaska Natives.

For more:
- see the release

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