As news to our New Mexico pistachio and pecan growers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Department is investing $40 million to provide high-speed internet access for people living and working in rural areas in New Mexico.
Today’s investments are made possible because of funding from President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides $65 billion to expand reliable, affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S. The announcement reflects the goals of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to rebuild our economy from the middle-out and bottom-up through investments such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has given USDA unprecedented resources to close the digital divide in rural America,” Secretary Vilsack said. “Connecting rural Americans to reliable, high-speed internet helps farmers and businesses operate more efficiently and break into new markets. It helps build and keep wealth in rural communities. USDA is committed to making sure that people, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet. That’s how you grow the economy – not just in rural communities, but across the nation.”
The $40 million in grants comes from the fourth funding round of the ReConnect Program. The Department will announce additional investments in the coming weeks. USDA has invested $1.7 billion since the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration through the ReConnect Program to bring high-speed internet access to rural Americans.
The three projects being announced today in New Mexico are:
- The Western New Mexico Telephone Company Inc. is receiving a $23.8 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to provide high-speed internet access to people in Catron County. The company will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs (ACP). It also will provide a $34.99 monthly plan with 75 megabits per second upload and download speeds for subscribers within the project area who are enrolled in the ACP.
- The E.N.M.R. Telephone Cooperative is receiving a $2.6 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to provide high-speed internet access to people in De Baca, Guadalupe, Harding, Quay, San Miguel, Socorro and Union counties. E.N.M.R. will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC’s Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs. This project will serve socially vulnerable communities in De Baca, Guadalupe, San Miguel and Socorro counties.
- The Peñasco Valley Telephone (PVT) Cooperative is receiving a $13.9 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to provide high-speed internet access to 550 people, 48 farms and 11 businesses in Chaves, Eddy, Otero and Lincoln counties. PVT will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). PVT also offers a program that can provide free internet for households participating in the ACP. This project will serve socially vulnerable communities in Chaves, Eddy and Otero counties.
Background: ReConnect Program
To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant must serve an area that lacks access to service at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20 Mbps upload. The applicant must also commit to building facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service with speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in its proposed service area.
Background: Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
President Biden forged consensus and compromise between Democrats, Republicans and Independents to demonstrate our democracy can deliver big wins for the American people. After decades of talk on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, President Biden delivered the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – a historic investment in America that will change people’s lives for the better and get America moving again.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $65 billion to ensure every American has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet through a historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment. The legislation also lowers costs for internet service and helps close the digital divide, so that more Americans can take full advantage of the opportunities provided by internet access.
To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, visit www.rd.usda.gov or contact the nearest USDA Rural Development state office.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.