U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Applauds USDA Funding for Rural Broadband in Wisconsin

Telecom Loan Will Strengthen Access to High Speed Broadband for Sauk, Richland and Juneau Counties

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin applauded a U.S. Department of Agriculture investment in strengthening access to high speed broadband in rural Wisconsin.  The broadband investment in LaValle Telephone Cooperative will serve citizens in Sauk, Richland and Juneau counties.  This new funding was also the featured in the Washington Post on Tuesday in an article titled, “Why the Agriculture Department is giving out tens of millions of dollars for Internet access.”

“The internet is built for faster speeds, and if we don’t keep up the pace of investment in rural communities, they will be left behind. Expanding and improving broadband service is vital to growing rural economies in Wisconsin and this is important support for our state,” said Senator Baldwin, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture.

LaValle Telephone Cooperative will use $7.61 million to deploy fiber and replace a switch to provide rural subscribers with improved services, including voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and the flexibility to connect to Gigabit Ethernet and IP interfaces.

The Telecommunications Loan and Community Connect Grant programs are an important part of USDA’s broadband efforts. Since 2009, USDA has brought new or improved broadband access to more than 1.5 million households, businesses and community education, and public safety facilities.  USDA’s broadband efforts are part of President Obama’s continued efforts to expand high speed broadband to all Americans. Since the President took office, the private and public sectors have invested more than $260 billion into new broadband infrastructure, and three in four Americans now use broadband at home. Thanks to smart spectrum policies and world-leading technology, fast 4G wireless broadband is now available to over 98 percent of Americans.

“Broadband is fundamental to expanding economic opportunity and job creation in rural areas,  and it is as vital to rural America’s future today as electricity was when USDA began bringing power to rural America 80 years ago,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The investments USDA is making today will deliver broadband to rural communities that are currently without high-speed internet service, or whose infrastructure needs to be upgraded.   Improved connectivity means these communities can offer robust business services, expand access to health care and improve the quality of education in their schools, creating a sustainable and dynamic future those who live and work in rural America.”