St. Louis, MO, Nov 14, 2011 -- Contact:
Joan Messina (217) 403-6248
USDA Announces Funding to Expand and Improve Broadband Services
in Rural Areas
Four Illinois Telephone Companies among Recipients
ST. LOUIS, MO, Nov. 14, 2011—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for 28 telephone utilities to build, expand and improve broadband in their rural service territories across 18 states. The announcement was made on the Secretary's behalf by USDA Rural Utilities Service Deputy Administrator Jessica Zufolo during an address at the annual meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in St. Louis, MO.
Four Illinois telephone companies were selected to receive funding for broadband deployment or improvements. The companies serve customers in southeastern, west central, south central and north central Illinois. They will receive low cost loans totaling more than $44 million.
“Today’s funding will provide residents of these rural communities with high speed internet connections to improve healthcare and educational opportunities and connect to global markets,” Vilsack said. “In addition to providing much needed services to rural businesses and residents, these investments will increase jobs, not just in the near term, but through expanded opportunities in rural areas.”
“I congratulate the Illinois telephone companies for their efforts to bring broadband to our rural communities and remote locations,” said Colleen Callahan, state director for Rural Development in Illinois. “They are making significant investments, and USDA Rural Development is proud to be part of their efforts.”
Shawnee Telephone Company, serving communities in southeastern Illinois for more than 50 years, will receive $30,286,000 in loan funds to construct FTTP (Fiber-To-The-Premises) facilities, allowing Shawnee to provide voice and data services at speeds of up to 100 Mbps to both residences and businesses. In 2010, Shawnee Telephone Company received $7.3 million in loan and grant funds from USDA Rural Development to expand broadband service to customers in Pope and Hardin counties.
Headquartered in Colchester, McDonough Telephone Cooperative, Inc. was selected to receive $15,728,000 in loan funds to upgrade their rural services with Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) technology. Approximately 766 miles of buried fiber cable will be deployed to provide more than half of the subscribers with access to improved broadband service. McDonough has been serving its rural subscribers for over 60 years and has more than 3,700 members in 20 rural west central Illinois communities.
McNabb Telephone Company, serving the Village of McNabb and the surrounding area in parts of Putnam and LaSalle counties, will receive $3,700,000 in loan funds to make system improvements, including constructing new FTTP facilities. A total of 115 miles of buried fiber optic cable will be deployed to improve service to subscribers. Within its coverage area, the company offers broadband service with speeds of up to 4Mbs download and 1Mbs upload.
Wabash Telephone Cooperative, Inc. was selected to receive a $21,867,000 loan to install 777 miles of buried fiber optic cables and related equipment throughout the proposed FTTP system. The FTTP system will enhance service to 70 percent of Wabash’s subscribers. The cooperative received a $21, 867,000 low interest loan from USDA to expand broadband in its service area earlier this year. The cooperative supports 4,512 access lines for a wide variety of video, internet and land line services in parts of eight south central Illinois counties, including most of Clay and Wayne counties.
This investment in broadband technology creates the potential for increased business growth, while providing improved telecommunications, entertainment services, educational services, healthcare, and public safety to rural communities.
Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. More information about USDA Rural Development can be found at www.rurdev.usda.gov/il.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).