U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the Department is investing $63 million in rural areas of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Mississippi to bring high-speed internet access to residents. The investments include funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides $65 billion to expand reliable, affordable, high-speed internet to communities nationwide.
Locally, McDonough Telephone Cooperative is receiving an $18 million grant to install a fiber-to-the-premises network in Illinois. This network will connect 1,583 people, 274 farms and 41 businesses to high-speed internet in Hancock, Henderson, McDonough and Warren counties.
“Investing in high-speed internet is a fundamental part of our partnership with rural communities,” Secretary Vilsack said. “Connecting rural Americans with reliable internet brings new and innovative ideas to the rest of our country. Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is committed to ensuring that the people who make up the rich tapestry in rural areas have every opportunity to succeed – and that people can find those opportunities right at home in their communities.”
The grants come from the third round of funding from the Reconnect Program, which provided loans and grants to cover the costs of construction, improvement or acquisition of facilities and equipment to provide broadband internet in rural areas. Since the program’s inception, the USDA has invested $3.2 billion to bring high-speed internet to people in rural communities across the country.