USDA announces $59M for high-speed internet access in rural Arizona

Jul 29, 2022, 4:15 AM

(Pexels Photo)...

(Pexels Photo)

(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — The federal government announced Thursday the investment of millions of dollars to increase high-speed internet access in rural Arizona communities.

Companies in Arizona and two other states will share just over $58.2 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, part of $401 million nationally to connect 31,000 people in rural areas with high-speed internet access.

“Connectivity is critical to economic success in rural America,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release.

“The internet is vital to our growth and continues to act as a catalyst for our prosperity. From the farm to the school, from households to international markets, connectivity drives positive change in our communities.”

A majority of the funding – $44.9 million – is a loan for Valley Telephone Cooperative to upgrade the system’s 13 exchanges in southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico by replacing copper wire-based equipment with fiber. Officials said the improvements will allow the broadband service to have upload and download rates of up to 1 gigabit per second for every subscriber simultaneously.

The Midvale Telephone Company will get a loan of just over $10.5 million to deploy a fiber-to-the-home network and connect 455 people, 39 businesses and 69 farms to high-speed internet in parts of Idaho and Arizona.

A grant of $3.7 million is also being provided to Table Top Telephone Company Inc. for a fiber-to-the-premises network that will connect 201 people, seven businesses and two farms in Apache County. The company using the money will also provide 100 megabits per second service for free to residents that participate in the FCC’s Lifeline Affordable Connectivity programs.

Funding for the investment comes from the bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden last year.

Residents in rural parts of Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas will also benefit from the investments, officials said.

The USDA said additional investments for rural high-speed internet will be made later this summer.

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USDA announces $59M for high-speed internet access in rural Arizona