Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that rural telecommunications companies have been selected to receive nearly $192 million in loans for projects that will deliver broadband services to rural customers across eight states.

These funds represent the latest investment from The Department of Agriculture's Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program and will add thousands of miles of cable to the telecommunications grid in rural America.

Administered by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service (RUS), this financing is part of the $690 million investment during fiscal year 2011 and is in addition to the $3.5 billion in broadband funding RUS awarded for projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The telecommunications infrastructure program funds facilities and equipment to upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural telecommunications networks.

Projects include:

  • A $70 million loan to 3 Rivers Telephone Cooperative in Fairfield, Mont., to install almost 1,700 miles of buried cable, construct buildings, and install electronic equipment to upgrade 10 exchanges. The deployment of this equipment will make upgraded broadband services available to approximately 4,700 households, 500 businesses, and 82 critical community organizations, such as public safety departments. 3 Rivers provides telecommunications services to subscribers over nearly 17,000 square miles of Montana.
  • A $22.5 million loan to the Molalla Telephone Co. in Oregon to expand a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband system to approximately 85% of its subscribers.

Funding of each recipient is contingent upon their meeting the conditions of the loan agreement. A complete list of the rural utilities approved for funding is listed below:

  • Iowa — Farmers Mutual Telephone Co.: $18,205,000
  • Iowa and Missouri — IAMO Telephone Company: $14,972,000
  • Kansas — Wilson Telephone Company, Inc.: $14,312,000
  • Montana — 3 Rivers Telephone Cooperative, Inc.: $70,000,000
  • Oregon — Molalla Telephone Company: $22,500,000
  • Texas — Coleman County Telephone Cooperative, Inc.: $22,540,000
  • Washington — Western Wahkiakum County Telephone Co.: $12,708,000
  • Wisconsin — Baldwin Telecom Inc.: $16,716,000