The Biden administration continues its push toward internet for all by 2030, announcing about $667 million in new grants and loans to build more broadband infrastructure in rural parts of the United States. “Through this investment, we are providing funding to communities in every corner of the country because we believe no child should have to sit in the back of their mother’s car in the McDonald’s parking lot to do homework,” she said. Mitch Landrieu, White House Infrastructure Coordinatorin a conference call with reporters.
Fourth round of financing
The 37 new recipients represent the fourth round of funding under the program, called ReConnect by the USDA. An additional 37 projects received $771.4 million in grants and loans announced in April and June. Landrieu said the money flowing through federal broadband programs, including those announced Monday and the $42.5 billion infrastructure program unveiled earlier this summer, will lead to a new kind of “electrification of America.” “.
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The largest grant was awarded to Ponderosa Telephone in California, which received more than $42 million to develop fiber-optic networks in Fresno County. In total, more than 1,200 people, 12 farms, and 26 other businesses will benefit from this effort alone, according to the USDA. The telephone cooperatives, counties, and telecommunications companies that won the new awards are based in 22 states and the Marshall Islands. At least half of households in areas receiving the new funding do not have access to internet speeds of 100 megabits per second for download and 20 megabits per second for upload — what the federal government considers “unserved” in broadband terms.
The task of the beneficiaries is to build networks that raise these levels to at least 100 Mbps for upload and 100 Mbps for download per household, business and farm in their service areas. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the investments could provide new economic opportunities for farmers, enable people without access to medical care to gain access to medical professionals through telemedicine and increase academic offerings, including advanced placement courses in high schools.
“This administration’s understanding and appreciation of the need to continue investing in rural America to create more opportunity is something that I’m very happy about,” Vilsack said at the news conference.
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