Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for two rural telecommunications companies that will expand broadband service in rural Nebraska and Montana.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. The announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
In Nebraska, Hartington Telecommunications Co., Inc, an RUS borrower since 1956, will use a $5.265 million loan to replace copper cable with Fiber-to-the-Home technology to serve customers with a state-of-the-art telecommunications system. The new system will require replacing rural drops with fiber cables and installing new optical interfaces at each subscriber location. A large number of digital loop carrier (DLC) sites will be retired or converted into optical nodes, increasing system reliability due to a reduction in grid powered sites. The company has had previous RUS loans totaling more than $8 million.
InterBel Telephone Cooperative, Inc., in Montana, will receive a $20.8 million loan to complete a Fiber-to-the-Premises network to help meet future growth requirements. USDA funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.
“These loans will provide the necessary telecommunications infrastructure essential for rural economic development,” Vilsack said. “Broadband offers rural communities greater access to educational, health care, business and social services and opens the door to increased global competition. As part of President Obama’s goal to improve infrastructure, we continue to fund projects that expand broadband service in rural areas.”
The funding announcement will provide more than $26 million from USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a Rural Development agency, to install fiber networks to improve telecommunications services in these areas.