Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, November 5, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the investment of over $4.2 million in high-speed broadband infrastructure in Oklahoma. Funded by USDA’s Rural Development Broadband ReConnect Program, the project will create and improve rural e-Connectivity for rural households and farms in Oklahoma. Representatives Frank Lucas (OK-03) and Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) released the following statements praising USDA’s investment in rural Oklahoma:
“In today’s society, our access to broadband allows us to connect to an unlimited amount of services and information. From businesses on Main Street, classrooms in our local schools, and households dotted throughout rural America, the ability to connect to broadband truly shapes the lives of each and every Oklahoman,” said Congressman Lucas.
Lucas continued, “For far too long, rural America has been left behind- technologically speaking. Increasing broadband boosts economic opportunities, providing the necessary modern infrastructure allowing businesses to thrive and students to grow. I applaud Secretary Sonny Perdue’s efforts increasing access to broadband in rural Oklahoma and look forward to seeing the beneficial impacts this will have for farms and businesses alike.”
“Oklahoma’s Second District is the only congressional district in the country where broadband is available to less than half the population. Our rural areas and schools are too often left without the services they need to deliver educational opportunities essential to our children’s future success. This grant will significantly improve connectivity and quality of life for those in the rural areas I serve. I look forward to seeing the positive impact of this investment for years to come,” said Congressman Mullin.
In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On Dec. 13, 2018, Secretary Perdue announced the rules of the program, called “ReConnect,” including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. USDA received 146 applications between May 31, 2019, and July 12, 2019, requesting $1.4 billion in funding across all three ReConnect Program funding products: 100 percent loan, 100 percent grant, and loan-grant combinations. USDA is reviewing applications and announcing approved projects on a rolling basis. Additional investments in all three categories will be made in the coming weeks.
These grants, loans and combination funds enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient Internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.