U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced during a virtual press conference Wednesday that the USDA is investing $22.5 million for two recipients in Michigan to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas. These investments are part of USDA’s round one investments made through the ReConnect Pilot Program.
The awards include an $11.8 million loan/grant combination to MEI Telecom Services/Barry County Telephone Company to provide affordable, fiber-based broadband services in rural Barry County. This project will extend broadband availability to 17 farms, 16 businesses and 12,000 residents spread over 127 square miles.
David Stoll of MEI Telecom & Barry Co. Telephone:
“The need for rural broadband has never been more apparent than it is now – as our nation manages the coronavirus national emergency. Access to telehealth services, remote learning for school children, and remote business operations all require access to broadband,” said Secretary Perdue. “I am so proud of our rural communities who have been working day in and day out, just like they always do, producing the food and fiber America depends on. We need them more than ever during these trying times, and expanding access to this critical infrastructure will help ensure rural America prospers for years to come.”
The other recipient, Southwest Michigan Communications Inc. is receiving a $10.7 million loan/grant combination to deploy Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband service to Van Buren and Allegan counties. This project will extend broadband availability to 22 farms, 19 businesses and 7,700 residents spread over 100 square miles.
The two projects will bring modern broadband service to nearly 20,000 residents.