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Broadband

RD’s ReConnect Program: Supporting Agricultural Innovation by Bridging the Digital Divide

Often when we think of rural broadband, we think about how internet access has revolutionized the way Americans consume media, conduct business, learn, and receive medical care via telemedicine. Over the last two decades, USDA has been making significant progress in connecting rural communities to the same telecommunications infrastructure enjoyed by their urban counterparts. However, the untapped potential of high-speed broadband also extends into the new technologies farmers and ranchers use to feed and clothe the world.

Wisconsin Telecommunications Cooperatives Step Up to Support E-Learning

Wisconsin students across the state adapted to the new normal with e-Learning studies since the Badger State entered the “Safer at Home” status in late March. If you live in a metro area, you probably didn’t struggle with lack of service or low bandwidth. But in the rural areas, it was a big challenge.

Rural Distance Learning Gets a Tech Boost in Oklahoma and Texas

Hilliary Communications, which serves parts of Oklahoma and Texas, has reinforced its commitment to its customers and communities with a series of upgrades in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. This is especially important since students across the state will begin distance learning on April 6 as schools across the region go back into session remotely.

Educational Opportunities Spread with Broadband Expansion in Rural America

“If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.”

I was reminded of this powerful proverb while preparing for our ReConnect program announcement. As a former teacher, education and its long-reaching benefits are dear to my heart. While joining Deputy Under Secretary Donald “DJ” LaVoy at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky, to announce over $55.3 million in ReConnect funding, I thought of the impact this funding would have on the education of our fellow Kentuckians.

“Our People Are Our Biggest Asset:” Determined Coastal Community Stands Up for Broadband

The bold and rugged coast of Downeast Maine is home to a rural community of 300, where the people have made a living off the land and sea for generations. The Town of Roque Bluffs contains a state park and boasts some of the most beautiful coastline in Maine - yet it is the people who are its biggest asset. When they saw an opportunity to bring broadband to their tiny town, they were determined to make it happen.

A Uniquely Alaskan Solution to Bring Broadband to an Isolated Gulf Community

Imagine building a broadband network where there are no roads to move supplies, or electrical grids to power cellular towers. Yakutat is an isolated community of about 650 tucked into a sheltered bay off the Gulf of Alaska, disconnected from the road system, and hundreds of miles from Alaska population centers. Like many remote Alaskan villages, most residents in Yakutat adopt a subsistence form of living, depending heavily off the land and sea to survive. For Yakutat, which has a substantial Alaska Native population and struggles with a fifteen percent poverty rate, modern conveniences like fast internet are unavailable.

Farming in the 21st Century Requires Being Connected

As you step onto Bebb Farms in rural Labette County, Kan., you see tractors, combines, sprayers, grain bins, and semis. All necessary equipment on a Kansas farm, but perhaps the most important equipment you don’t see is the Internet.

Connecting South Dakota’s Rural Communities to Opportunities in Business, Education, Health Care and Beyond

In early December, I had the privilege of announcing a USDA Rural Development ReConnect Pilot Program investment of more than $9.5 million to Valley Telecommunications Cooperative Association, Inc. dba Valley FiberCom in Flandreau, South Dakota. This investment will help Valley deploy high-speed broadband internet e-Connectivity to more than 1,750 rural households, 27 farms, 17 businesses and one critical community facility.