Further investments are expected to be made in rural high-speed internet later this summer through funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law


Headquarters of USDA in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Billy Hathorn/Wikipedia.org)

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is set to invest $401m to enable access to high-speed internet access in the rural areas across 11 states in the country to benefit 31,000 rural residents and businesses.

The investment announced by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is said to be part of the commitment made by the Biden-Harris Administration to invest in rural infrastructure and make affordable high-speed internet available for all.

According to the department, the 11 states, which will get the funding include Arizona, Alaska, California, Arkansas, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Nevada, Texas, and North Dakota.

A group of investments from the ReConnect Program has been included in the announcement along with an award funded via the department’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee programme.

USDA stated that it will make further investments in rural high-speed internet later this summer. These include ReConnect Program funding from US President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which facilitates a $65bn investment to ensure that more people across the country get affordable, high-speed internet.

Vilsack said: “Connectivity is critical to economic success in rural America. The internet is vital to our growth and continues to act as a catalyst for our prosperity. From the farm to the school, from households to international markets, connectivity drives positive change in our communities.”

As part of the latest investment announcement, USDA will award a grant of $27.1m to launch a fiber-to-the-premises network in Nevada’s Pershing County. Midvale Telephone will get a loan of $10.6m for deploying a fiber-to-the-home network in certain counties of Idaho and Arizona.

Arkansas Telephone will get a grant of $12m to install a fiber-to-the-premises network to enable high-speed internet in Searcy and Van Buren counties in Arkansas.

Earlier this year, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a funding of more than $1.2bn to fund new broadband deployments across 32 states under the $20.4bn Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.