The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a nearly $40 million loan to a local telephone cooperative to improve broadband access to rural Montana residents.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced in a press release Thursday that Triangle Communications was one of the businesses or organizations in 11 states awarded a total of $247.9 million to help fund rural broadband telecommunications projects.
“USDA’s investment in telecommunications services will continue to meet the growing needs of homeowners and business in rural America as we continue striving to spur economic activity and job creation," Vilsack said when he announced the awarding of the loans, during the annual convention for the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. “These loans help provide the level of financial assistance required to deliver health care, educational, social and financial services to benefit rural economies.”
Triangle was approved for a $38,793,000 loan at a variable interest rate for 23 years for its project. That project will set 64 miles of new fiber and copper cable to connect premises to broadband access in Triangle’s Dodson, Harlem, Malta and White Sulphur Springs telephone exchanges.
Neither Triangle’s manager nor assistant manager were available for comment this morning.
The loans are part of USDA’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program for fiscal year 2010, and will finance laying more than 16,000 miles of fiber connections to homes. That program, administered by USDA’s Rural Utilities Service, invested $690 million in new telecommunications infrastructure in 2010, the release said.
That funding is in addition to $3.5 billion in broadband funding Rural Utilities Service awarded for rural broadband projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The telecommunications infrastructure program funds facilities and equipment for upgrades, expansion, maintenance and replacement of rural networks.
Other area awards announced Thursday included a $5,544,000 loan to Southern Montana Telephone Company, based out of Wisdon; and an $18 million loan to the Montana and Wyoming Range Telephone Cooperative, Inc. based out of Forsyth.