Washington, Oct 24, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced 14 awards for projects to bring broadband to unserved rural communities. U.S. Department of Agriculture (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.
"Access to broadband is one of the most important investments in rural communities today," Vilsack said. "These awards will help create jobs, and give rural residents greater access to educational, health care and social services."
USDA is providing $20.3 million in grants through the Community Connect Grant program.
These are the first awards made under the Community Connect program's new guidelines that now allow applicants to fund broadband infrastructure for more than one community, and raise the minimum required speed. Projects funded must deliver broadband at five megabits per second (Mbps).
The following is a list of Kentucky awardees that will receive USDA funding contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement:
• Crystal Broadband Networks - $480,420. Funds will be used to deploy high speed broadband internet, including video and voice service, to the area of Idamay, Kentucky. This project will enable these communities to have access to real time weather radar and national weather updates to address severe weather conditions. This new 5 Mbps. service will allow the community's fire and rescue personnel to receive real-time weather warning updates.
• Crystal Broadband Networks - $704,600. Funds will be used to provide broadband service to the areas of Lambric and Rousseau, and video and voice services to the entire service area. This project will enable these communities to have access to real time weather radar and national weather updates to address severe weather conditions. The project includes a community center which will provide free broadband service to residents in Lambric and Rousseau for at least two years.
“Improving access to broadband services will enhance the ability for rural Kentuckians to live, work and prosper in eastern Kentucky,” said Thomas G. Fern, state director for USDA Rural Development operations in Kentucky. “The Obama Administration has been working throughout the Commonwealth to improve access to high speed broadband services -- it is critical to the future of rural Kentucky.”
Vilsack noted that today's funding announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy. He said that's just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.
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.