Texas Wins $26 Million in Rural Broadband Expansion Grants | Texas

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AUSTIN — Texas will receive more than $26 million for rural broadband expansion.

The US Department of Agriculture last week announced an additional $401 million for high-speed internet access in rural communities across the country. Of this amount, two Texas companies will receive $26.41 million in grants.

“Connectivity is critical to economic success in rural America,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “The Internet is vital to our growth and continues to act as a catalyst for our prosperity. From farm to school, from household to international markets, connectivity is driving positive change in our communities. »

The first grant of $16.6 million will go to Five Area Telephone Cooperative Inc. in Muleshoe, northwest of Lubbock. The fibre-to-the-premises network will connect 1,402 people, 50 businesses, 712 farms and four public schools to high-speed internet in Bailey, Cochran, Hockley, Lamb and Parmer counties, USDA officials said.

A second grant of $9.8 million was awarded to Central Texas Telephone Cooperative Inc., based in Goldthwaite, west of Waco. It will be used to roll out a fiber-to-the-premises network, USDA officials said. Additionally, Central Texas Telephone Cooperative also received a $9.8 million loan to help complete the project.

This network will connect 647 people, 19 businesses and 151 farms to high-speed internet in Lampasas and San Saba counties, officials said.

The two co-ops will also make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program and the Affordable Connectivity program, which provide eligible households with discounts for broadband services, officials added. USDA.

Separately, Governor Greg Abbott received the Broadband Champion Award on Wednesday, where he spoke about the importance of expanding broadband access.

“The fact is that broadband access is no longer a luxury. It’s an essential tool for every industry,” Abbott said at a press conference. “A top priority is making sure this broadband expansion reaches every corner across the state.”

Abbott added that expanding reliable broadband connectivity will be a key issue in the next session of the Texas legislature, building on work done previously by state lawmakers. During the last legislative session, Texas funded the creation of a Texas Broadband Development Office as part of the state’s larger effort to address the statewide lack of broadband access.

In June, the BDO released a report outlining the bureau’s goals, including establishing broadband availability maps and developing grant programs as a way to distribute $500.4 million in federal infrastructure funding. broadband.

“The bottom line is this – no matter what part of the state of Texas you are in, you will have access to fast, reliable internet,” Abbott said. “Texas’ future is increasingly online, and we’re bringing that to absolutely everyone.”

Brad Kellar contributed to this report.

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