The US government has recently granted $714 million in funding to small telecommunications companies to deliver high-speed Internet to rural areas. This forms part of the ReConnect program’s fourth round of allocation, aiming to improve infrastructure and bring robust broadband to isolated communities. The ongoing multi-billion-dollar initiative has made two smaller awards earlier this year under the same round.
The current funding will go towards full fiber infrastructure as all 33 identified projects focus on the rollout of fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP). Three noteworthy projects receiving grants just below $35 million include two in Alaska, involving the Interior Telephone Company and Mukluk Telephone Company, and a third in Montana, with the Nemont Telephone Cooperative bringing FTTP to various establishments.
Craw-Kan Telephone Cooperative in Kansas claimed the largest loan, receiving almost $50 million to build a new FTTP network, extending services to thousands in five counties. The government has highlighted similar projects across multiple states, with the funds benefiting companies operating in 19 states altogether.
“High-speed internet is a key to prosperity for people who live and work in rural communities,” said US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack. He emphasized the importance of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, created in late 2021. The law provides $550 billion in infrastructure investment throughout the 2022-2026 period, with $65 billion allocated specifically for broadband.
Companies awarded grants or loans under the ReConnect program must apply to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and aims to discount Internet connectivity for low-income households.
Despite political posturing, the current US administration is demonstrating strong commitment to financing broadband network rollouts in areas unserved by major telecommunications companies, greatly benefiting rural communities.