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Release No. 0068.10
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USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

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AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VILSACK ANNOUNCES RURAL BROADBAND PROJECTS TO BRING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY TO COMMUNITIES IN NINE STATES

Filing Period For Round Two of Broadband Applications Opens This Week

WASHINGTON, February 17, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of eleven Broadband Infrastructure projects to enable rural residents in nine states to have access to improved economic and educational opportunities. Funding for the projects is being provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law by President Obama a year ago today. Additionally, USDA and The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have announced that a second filing window for broadband applications opened this week.

"The broadband projects we're announcing today will create construction jobs now to build high speed Internet networks in unserved and under-served communities. Deployment of broadband will support job creation and rural economic development," Vilsack said. "The Obama Administration and USDA are bringing broadband to rural America so that Americans can compete in a global 21st Century economy. We are opening new opportunities not only for homes and businesses, but for community institutions such as health facilities, libraries, public buildings and community centers."

In rural Kentucky, for example, the Mountain Rural Telephone Cooperative Corporation (MRTCC) has been selected to receive a $39.8 million loan and a $38.3 million grant to deploy a fiber cable-based broadband network in the counties of Morgan, Menifee, Wolfe, and Elliott. All four counties are considered "distressed" by the Appalachian Regional Commission, and are challenged by mountainous terrain and limited highway and rail infrastructure. MRTCC will bring broadband access to these counties to enhance economic and educational opportunities for residents and employers.

In rural Minnesota, the Southwest Minnesota Broadband Group (SWMBG) has been selected to receive an almost $6.4 million loan and a $6.4 million grant to extend fiber to the Jackson, Lakefield, Windom, Round Lake, Bingham Lake, Brewster, Wilder, Heron Lake, and Okabena communities. This funding, along with an $88,000 private investment, will provide high-speed Internet, voice, and cable television to the participating communities. This will improve the quality of life by increasing the availability of health, education, and public safety services across the region.

In all, over $277 million will be invested in the 11 projects through funding made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. An additional $1.6 million in private investment will be provided in matching funds. Congress provided USDA $2.5 billion in Recovery Act funding to help bring broadband services to rural un-served and underserved communities.

Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement. Below is a complete list of recent Recovery Act Broadband award recipients by state:

Indiana

  • Smithville Telephone Company, Inc.: $37,729,143 loan. The funding will provide 3,815 households, 209 businesses, and 12 community anchor institutions with access to broadband service.

Iowa

  • Southeast Iowa Rural Wireless Broadband: $3,836,926 loan. The funding will provide Internet services to 80 rural communities using proven wireless technology.

Kentucky

  • Mountain Rural Telephone Cooperative Corporation (MRTCC) ILEC Broadband: $39,843,535 loan and $38,281,044 grant. The funding will provide fiber to Morgan, Menifee, Wolfe, and Elliott counties that will result in 20 Mbps bandwidth to end users.

Louisiana

  • Allen's Cable - Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) Broadband Network Extension: $3,584,680 loan and $3,513,697 grant. The funding will extend fiber into rural areas of three South Louisiana Parishes.
  • LBH, LLC, - Rural Broadband Powered by Fiber: $16,693,439 loan and $16,691,939 grant. The funding will expand existing broadband into rural areas around Moss Bluff, Oakdale, and Vinton.

Minnesota

  • Southwest Minnesota Broadband Group (SWMBG): $6,350,000 loan and $6,350,250 grant. The funding will provide service to eight rural communities throughout Southwest Minnesota.

Missouri

  • Unionville, Missouri FTTP Project: $5,140,458 loan and $5,140,458 grant. The funding will provide broadband services to households, businesses, and key community organizations that are currently underserved in the Unionville area.

New Mexico

  • Western New Mexico Telephone Company, Broadband Infrastructure Project: $11,516,679 grant. The funding will provide last mile broadband services to remote and unserved locations and critical community facilities throughout Western New Mexico.
  • Baca Valley Telephone Company, Inc.: $1,651,000 loan and $1,586,000 grant. The funding will expand fiber optics to Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) nodes in rural Northeastern New Mexico, replacing outdated deteriorating copper wire and low bandwidth microwave transport systems in some areas, while providing new connectivity in others, and enabling advanced, high-speed DSL service throughout the area.

Oregon

  • Sandy Broadband Infrastructure Project: $374,548 loan and $374,537 grant. The funding will provide broadband service to the underserved rural area of Sandy by improving and expanding wireless Internet service.

Texas

  • Southern Texas Broadband Infrastructure Development and Adoption Project: $40,093,153 loan and $38,520,868 grant. The funding will develop a broadband infrastructure in eleven unserved and underserved rural communities of the South Texas Plains.

USDA is continuing to review broadband applications currently on file and expects to make additional announcements concerning awards throughout the current fiscal year. Additionally, The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) on Tuesday began accepting applications for a second round of broadband grants. Applications will be accepted until March 15, 2010 at 5 p.m. ET.

The application packages for electronic submissions is available at http://www.broadbandusa.gov. Electronic submissions of applications will allow for the expeditious review of an Applicant's proposal, consistent with the goals of the Recovery Act. The government electronic application system will provide a date and time stamped confirmation number that will serve as proof of submission. The Recovery Act provided a total of $7.2 billion to the Department of Commerce and to USDA to accelerate broadband deployment in areas of the country that have been without the high-speed infrastructure.

You may obtain additional information regarding applications via the Internet at http://www.broadbandusa.gov.

President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law on Feb. 17, 2009. It is designed to jumpstart the nation's economy, create or save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act includes measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.

More information about USDA's Recovery Act efforts is available at www.usda.gov/recovery. More information about the Federal government's efforts on the Recovery Act is available at www.recovery.gov.

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