USDA's Rural Utilities Services Administrator Jonathan Adelstein announced more than $103 million in funding through the Community Connect program that will go to 18 recipients for 23 projects designed to provide broadband services to unserved and underserved rural communities.
"Broadband adoption and access continues to lag in rural areas behind that in urban areas," Adelstein said. "Some of the reasons for that lag in access is so many rural areas lack population density, or have rugged terrain or are just too costly to serve for telecommunication providers."
So many rural communities across the country end up without broadband service. Adelstein say that is the reason for the Community Connect grant program.
"Under that program, RUS targets the limited grant dollars that we have for broadband service that don't have any access today," Adelstein said. "These are often the communities that stand to benefit the most from broadband access, they are often low income communities without many economic opportunities."
In addition to the Community Connect grants, Adelstein announced $90 million in loan funding for five broadband infrastructure projects. These infrastructure loans are in addition to $192 million in loans Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced on July 27, 2011, through USDA Rural Development's Telecommunications Infrastructure Program.
"These broadband investments, loans and grants, will create the jobs of the future, cultivate businesses and entrepreneurial development and increase our future economic competitiveness," Adelstein said. "This is the driver of global economic development today, broadband and communications, and RUS is proud to be at the forefront of that."
These projects will bring broadband service to around 7 million people, and will immediately provide jobs building out the systems, building towers, building the fiber networks and making sure that the engineering work is done. It is anticipated that around 30,000 jobs will be created by these projects.