The Biden administration on Monday announced about $667 million in new grants and loans to build more broadband infrastructure in rural America.
At least half of homes in areas receiving the new funding do not have access to internet speeds of 100 megabits per second download and 20 Mbps upload, which the federal government considers “underserved” in broadband terminology.
The mandate for recipients is to build networks that raise that level to at least 100 Mbps upload and 100 Mbps download speeds for every home, business and farm in their service areas.
The 37 new recipients represent the fourth round of funding from the US Department of Agriculture under a program called RECONNECT. Another 37 projects received $771.4 million in grants and loans as announced in April and June.
The largest award went to Ponderosa Telephone Company in California, which received over $42 million to deploy a fiber network in Fresno County. Altogether, more than 1,200 people, 12 farms and 26 other businesses will benefit from that effort alone, according to the USDA.
“With this investment, we’re getting funding to communities in every corner of the country because we believe that no kid should have to sit in the back of a mama’s car in a McDonald’s parking lot in order to do homework,” said Mitch Landrieu, the White House’s infrastructure coordinator, in a call with reporters.