Temple, Texas, Oct 24, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced 14 awards to finance broadband service in rural communities that currently do not have broadband access, two of which are located in Texas. USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator John Padalino made the announcement on the Secretary’s behalf while addressing a regional meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in San Antonio, Texas.
"Access to broadband is one of the most important investments in rural communities today,” said Vilsack. “These awards will help create jobs, and give rural residents greater access to educational, health care and social services.”
“The Community Connect Program offers financial assistance to rural Texas communities that have a goal to provide their residents with broadband connections. This technology will provide residents with global access to quality economic, social and educational opportunities,” commented Paco Valentin, Texas State Director of USDA Rural Development.
These are the first awards made under the Community Connect program’s new guidelines, which now allow applicants to fund broadband infrastructure for more than one community and raise the minimum required speed. Projects funded must deliver broadband service at a minimum bandwidth of five megabits per second.
Broadband contributes to economic growth and prosperity by providing access to the global marketplace. For example, Texhoma Fiber, LLC will receive $863,000 to provide broadband service to the area of Sunset, Texas. The area is located in southern Montague County and will serve homes around the Lyndon B. Johnson National Grassland area. Residential customers will have access to service with speeds of up to 20 Mbps. to their homes and businesses will have service with speeds up to 100 Mbps. The project will also provide a community center with free service for at least two years. Free service will also be provided to critical community facilities for at least two years.
Texhoma Fiber, LLC also received funding for a second project in the amount of $978,000 to provide broadband service to the community of Ringgold, Texas. Customers will be able to receive broadband, voice and cable television service. Residential customers will have access to up to 100 Mbps. while up to 1 gigabyte will be available for business customers. Discounted broadband service will be offered to low income subscribers who meet the same qualifications as the FCC Telephone Lifeline Service. The project will provide free broadband service to critical community facilities and a community center for residents for at least two years.
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. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.