WASHINGTON - Agriculture Secretary Vilsack has announced loans to help finance the construction of broadband networks in rural Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon and South Dakota. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today's announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
"Rural Americans need full access high-speed telecommunications services," Vilsack said. "Broadband allows rural communities to tap into critical health care and social services systems. It also helps even the playing field in education, and gives small-town businesses a chance to compete globally. As part of the Obama Administration's goal to improve infrastructure, we will continue to fund projects that expand broadband service in rural areas."
The funding announcement will provide almost $40 million from USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to install fiber networks to improve telecommunications capability in the three recipients' service areas. USDA's Telecommunications Loan Program finances infrastructure that enables access to a seamless, nationwide telecommunications network.
Secretary of Agriculture
The following recipients have been selected to receive telecommunications loan financing. The funding is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the loan agreements.
* Keystone-Farmers Cooperative Telephone Company will receive a $7.6 million loan to upgrade its plant and complete a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to help meet the current and future data needs of its customers in Benton and Tama counties.
* Colton Telephone Company will receive a $7.3 million loan to complete an FTTP network to provide enhanced broadband services for its customers.
South Dakota and Minnesota
* Interstate Telecommunications Company, Inc. will receive a $24.9 million loan to upgrade its plant and complete an FTTP network to provide enhanced broadband services for its customers.