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By GCN Staff

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USDA funds rural broadband projects

Three rural telecommunications infrastructure projects in Arkansas, Iowa and New Mexico will get loans from USDA to improve broadband service.

Southwest Arkansas Telephone will receive a $25 million loan to upgrade portions of a fiber network and convert the remaining portions of a copper system to fiber in order to improve service for subscribers.

Mescalero Apache Telecom in New Mexico will receive a $5.4 million loan to upgrade portions of its system and provide fiber service to approximately 50 percent of its territory.

Minburn Communications in Iowa has been chosen to receive a $4.7 million loan to upgrade its copper network to fiber and to provide subscribers with voice, broadband and video service.

"These telecommunications providers will deliver enhanced broadband services to help attract and grow businesses, as well as to improve educational and health care services," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "Time and again, studies show that affordable broadband offers increased economic opportunities in rural areas, which is why Rural Development is committed to delivering high-speed internet service to these communities."

The funding announcement coincides with news that President Obama signed a new Presidential Memorandum to create the Broadband Opportunity Council. Co-chaired by Secretary Vilsack and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the panel will be focused on increasing broadband investment and adoption. Since 2009, USDA investments in broadband include more than 500 projects for a total investment of $5.88 billion.

Posted by GCN Staff on Mar 23, 2015 at 12:49 PM


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