Thursday, September 25, 2008

USDA Announces $342 Million in Rural Broadband, Telecommunications Loans

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that broadband and telecommunications loans totaling more than $342 million are being awarded to 18 communications firms serving 22 states. The funds will help bring new and improved telecommunications services to rural residents and businesses. The loans are being made through the Rural Development Broadband Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, which provides low-interest loans to deploy broadband and telecommunications services to rural communities of 20,000 residents or less, with first priority going to areas without broadband. Rural Development is also providing funding through the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program, which makes loans to local firms working to provide both voice and broadband services in areas with 5,000 or fewer citizens.

The USDA cited several examples of how the money is being spent. Fort Mojave Telecommunications, Inc. in Mojave Valley, Ariz., will use a $16.9 million Rural Development telecommunications loan to connect 60 subscribers, deploy 36 route miles of fiber and copper cables, make improvements and additions to its existing plant and construct a 2,000-square-foot warehouse on leased land on the Fort Mojave Reservation in the Arizona Village Exchange.

International Broadband Electric Communications, Inc., in Hokes Bluff, Ala., was selected to receive a $49.2 million loan to construct a broadband over power line (BPL) network. The company will partner with 13 electric utilities to provide BPL service in seven states to connect 62,143 subscribers. The states are Alabama, Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. TCT West, Inc., Basin, Wyo., will use an $11.4 million Rural Development loan to construct a fiber-to-the-home system in Cody, Wyo., connect 7,278 subscribers and provide enhanced services to approximately 5,306 video and 9,823 voice subscribers.