The Heartland Telecommunications Company of Iowa, which operates as Premier Communications, will receive a $7.2 million loan to deploy or upgrade rural broadband as part of the USDA ReConnect Pilot Program.
According to a Premier Communications website, the company has been around since 1906.
The money will be used to make service available to 27 farms and 868 rural households in Iowa and South Dakota. The company will deploy FTTP networks capable of 1 Gbps symmetrical service.
“Technology and innovation are key in meeting the growing demand in agriculture,” Bill Northey, the USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, said in a press release. “Our mission to increase rural prosperity cannot be achieved without addressing the digital divide our rural communities face because of a lack of high-speed broadband Internet.”
The $600 million ReConnect program is aimed at making broadband available to rural and underserved areas. The investments are evenly divided between grants (that need not be paid back), loans and grant/loan combinations. The USDA received 146 applications between May 31 and July 12.
The program has rolled out awards on a regular basis:
- Earlier this month, the USDA awarded a $27.5 million grant to Star Telephone Membership Corp. of Clinton, NC that will support almost 8,750 households. At the same time, the USDA said that more than 3,000 households will get service via a $4.2 million loan to Oklahoma Western Telephone Company.
- In early November, the USDA announced an award of $3.8 million to Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative. The nature of the investment was not announced.
- In October, the USDA made a grant of $9.75 million to Orangeburg County, S.C. It will serve 3,911 households, 17 rural businesses, 13 educational facilities, nine critical community facilities and a health care center.
- The first award was a $2.85 million grant in October to the Forked Deer Electric Cooperative in Tennessee. The money will be used to increase speeds to 100 Mbps for 347 households and one critical care facility spread over 435 square miles.