The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded a $4.3 million grant through the ReConnect program to Seneca Telecommunications, a telecom provider owned by the Seneca Nation, to deploy or upgrade broadband infrastructure in the Seneca Nation’s Cattaraugus Territory in western New York.
The deployment will make service available to more than 1,000 rural households, 58 businesses, 25 farms, three educational facilities, one healthcare facility and one critical care facility. The grant will be used to create an FTTH network capable of 100 Mbps speeds.
“This ReConnect Program award from USDA will help the Seneca Nation take a major step forward to closing the digital divide that exists for our people,” said Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong, Sr. “Access to reliable broadband service is critical in today’s age. Bringing this service to our Cattaraugus Territory will greatly impact areas like education, health care and the overall quality of life for the Seneca people.”
The funding is part of the first round of ReConnect investments by the USDA. The total budget of the program is $600 million, split equally between loans, grants and hybrid loans and grants. The goal of the program is to improve speeds in areas that have less than 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds.
The USDA has made several ReConnect announcements in the past two months:
- Earlier this week, the ReConnect program awarded $41.6 million to Grand River Mutual Telephone to provide funding 2,288 households, 17 businesses and 39 farms in Missouri and southern Iowa.
- Last week, an award of $7.2 million was made to The Heartland Telecommunications Company of Iowa. The money will be used provide services to 27 farms and 868 rural households in Iowa and South Dakota. The telco will deploy FTTP networks capable of 1 Gbps symmetrical services.
- 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.
- In October, The USDA made a grant of $9.75 million to Orangeburg County, S.C. The deployment will make service available to 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.