ReConnect Loan and Grant Program
The Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) was awarded a $35 million grant to install affordable, reliable high-speed fiber broadband in the three underserved TCC village communities of Venetie, Chalkyitsik, and Circle (AK). The project is part of the Alaska FiberOptic Project, which is a larger collaboration between Calista Corporation; Doyon, Limited; Gana-A ‘Yoo Limited; Tanana Chiefs Conference; and Alaska Communications to connect more than 20 communities in the Yukon and Kuskokwim regions, beginning in Fairbanks and extending to the
Biden-Harris Administration Announces Over $700 Million to Connect People in Rural Areas to High-Speed Internet
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) made $714 million in grants and loans to connect thousands of rural residents, farmers and business owners in 19 states to reliable, affordable high-speed internet.
Sens. Bennet and Budd Introduce Legislation to Connect More Rural Communities to High-Speed Internet
Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Ted Budd (R-NC) introduced the Connecting Our Neighbors to Networks and Ensuring Competitive Telecommunications (CONNECT) Act of 2023 to reform the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ReConnect Loan and Grant Program.
Five providers that offer service in eastern North Dakota broke ground simultaneously on fiber projects funded, in part, through state and federal broadband programs.
Fastwyre Broadband is aiming to expand fiber access in Western Alaska, with the help of two new US Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants totaling nearly $70 million. The funds came from the USDA’s recent round of ReConnect Round Four awards, in which the agency dished out $714 million to cover 33 buildouts in 19 states. In Fastwyre’s case, it’s using the money to deliver fiber to around 3,000 people and 75 businesses in several communities across Alaska’s Nome Census Area.
The Senate Committee on Appropriations approved, on a 28-0 vote, the fiscal year 2024 Agriculture bill. The committee provides $98 million for the ReConnect program at the Department of Agriculture. The committee again reminds USDA that funding should not be used in areas that are already largely served and should be focused in areas where at least 90% of households lack access. In doing so, the committee intends that USDA
SIA President Tom Stroup Testifies Before House Committee on Agriculture Regarding the Role of Satellites in Bridging the Digital Divide in Rural America
The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) testified on the importance of satellite connectivity before the House Committee on Agriculture hearing titled “Closing the Digital Divide in Rural America.” SIA President Tom Stroup provided testimony on behalf of the Association. “Americans without high-speed internet access are slipping further behind as more and more aspects of American society are conducted online… and too many communities are on the wrong side of the divide,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson (R-PA).
WISPA’s President and CEO David Zumwalt commended the House Agriculture Committee and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for their work in closing the rural digital divide, and offered numerous suggestions on how the 2023 Farm Bill may more effectively narrow the broadband gap, in testimony today before the full Committee. WISPA represents the wireless internet service provider (WISP) industry.
Electric cooperatives need Congress to improve critical broadband programs to bring high-speed internet service to rural America, said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. More than 200 electric co-ops across the US are deploying broadband or developing plans to do so. Matheson asked the committee to make key improvements to broadband programs at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as it develops the Farm Bill:
Six representatives from the broadband and satellite industries testified at a House Agriculture Committee hearing on the digital divide, or the lack of some digital services in rural America. Committee Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA) asked the witnesses if the Department of Agriculture (USDA) was the right agency to handle the issue of rural broadband. “They know rural America. They prioritize issues that matter in rural America in their broadband funding in terms of rurality or low population density. That’s one of the criteria they look at.