August 21, 2023

Kilmer Announces USDA Loan to Boost High-Speed Internet in Mason County

MASON COUNTY, WA – Today, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development has approved a ReConnect Loan of more than $3.8 million to help build more than 16 fiber miles and install associated electronics, benefitting 800 households and 10 businesses. The project will meet the increasing demand for high-speed internet in rural Mason County.

“We know that access to the internet isn’t just about whether you can stream The Mandalorian on Disney Plus. It’s about whether you can have a telehealth appointment or take an online class or participate in an online meeting. And in our neck of the woods, too many folks can’t because internet infrastructure hasn’t reached them,” said Rep. Kilmer. “That’s why these investments matter. Federal dollars for projects like these go a long way in connecting folks. This funding will soon bring high-speed internet to 800 additional households and 10 businesses, all without the costs falling on the backs of local ratepayers and taxpayers.”

“Keeping the people of rural America connected with reliable, high-speed internet brings new and innovative ideas to the rest of our country and creates good-paying jobs along the way,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are connecting rural communities to a global marketplace. These investments will support economic growth and prosperity for generations to come.”

As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Kilmer has advocated for increased federal investment in the ReConnect Program, funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The ReConnect Loan and Grant Program offers loans and grants for the construction, improvement, and acquisition of broadband facilities and equipment in eligible rural areas.

Eligibility for the ReConnect Program funding mandates serving an area without 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload speeds. It also necessitates the creation of infrastructure that supports 100 Mbps (both download and upload) across the designated service area. To ensure affordability for those in need, all recipients are obligated to join the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides internet service discounts for eligible households, including increased savings for those on qualifying Tribal Lands.

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