USDA Funding Expands Broadband Access to Nearly Six Million Rural Residents, Workers and Businesses
New Economic Opportunities Created for Businesses and Residents
USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Brandon McBride today announced that nearly six million Americans who live and work in rural areas now have access to new or improved high-speed Internet service, thanks to USDA funding provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“I am proud to announce today that all of the active projects USDA has financed through the Recovery Act are now providing broadband service in rural areas nationwide,” McBride said.
“In 2009, the Obama Administration pushed for, and Congress provided USDA with, an unprecedented level of funding and five years to connect rural areas to high-speed networks. Bringing broadband to these areas is having a tremendous impact on rural communities. This access means more jobs, better education and a higher quality of life. The economic viability of rural America, like all of America, depends on access to broadband.”
Two hundred fifty-four Recovery Act broadband projects financed by USDA’s Rural Utilities Service totaling $2.9 billion are providing broadband service in 44 states and American Samoa.
More than half the infrastructure projects were completed under budget, resulting in the return of nearly $113 million to the Treasury.
The measure’s five year period for funding broadband projects expired at the end of the 2015 fiscal year.
These projects have brought high-speed Internet access to 260,000 rural households, 17,500 businesses and 1,900 community facilities.
The service providers estimate that completed projects could provide access for more than 5.8 million rural consumers.
While Congress instructed USDA to improve rural broadband access as part of a sweeping set of infrastructure investments funded through the Recovery Act, USDA is financing additional expansions to rural broadband service through other annual funding.
Michigan had eight projects for a total of $59 million:
“We’ve accomplished a great deal as a result of the Recovery Act funding,” McBride noted.
“But we still have more to do. Too many rural Americans are still living on the wrong side of the digital divide. USDA is committed to bridging that divide by getting more rural Americans online at work, at school and at home.”
According to the Federal Communications Commission, only 47 percent of people who live and work in rural areas have access to high-speed internet, compared to 90 percent of those who live and work in urban and metropolitan areas.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities.
Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way–strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities.