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Interstate Telecom. Co. Receives $25M USDA Loan to Improve Rural Broadband

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(NPN) — The USDA is providing a telecommunications company that operates in rural areas of South Dakota and Minnesota a nearly $25 million loan to improve broadband service.

Interstate Telecommunications Company, Inc. will receive a $24.9 million loan to upgrade its plant and complete an FTTP network to provide enhanced broadband services for its customers. ITC is headquartered in Clear Lake, S.D. Today, ITC offers basic phone service as well as high-speed Internet and cable TV services to customers in primarily east central and northeast South Dakota.

The funds are to be used to install fiber networks to improve telecommunications capability in the three recipients’ service areas. USDA’s Telecommunications Loan Program finances infrastructure that enables access to a nationwide telecommunications network.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement Thursday. Companies in Iowa and Oregon also will receive loans. The USDA’s Rural Utilities Service is provding the nearly $40 million in loans.

“Rural Americans need full access high-speed telecommunications services,” Vilsack said. “Broadband allows rural communities to tap into critical health care and social services systems. It also helps even the playing field in education, and gives small-town businesses a chance to compete globally. As part of the Obama administration’s goal to improve infrastructure, we will continue to fund projects that expand broadband service in rural areas.”

Vilsack said loans come despite it being a “time of significant budget uncertainty” for the federal government.

Besides ITC, Another recipient is the Keystone-Farmers Cooperative Company in Iowa which will receive a $7.6 million to upgrade its plant and complete a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to help meet the current and future data needs of its customers in Benton and Tama counties. The other recipient is the Colton Telephone Company in Oregon, which will receive a $7.3 million loan to complete an FTTP network to provide enhanced broadband services for its customers.

Since the start of the Obama administration, USDA has funded 557 projects in 48 states through $6.1 billion in telecommunications loan financing.

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