(Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Cathy McMorris announced today that the USDA will fund a $24.5 million loan for the extension of broadband services to residents in 54 counties in Oregon and Washington. Communities in Eastern Washington to receive expanded services include Othello, Clarkston, Cheney, Tonasket, and College Place.
“The availability of high-speed Internet access in rural areas will promote economic growth and development in our local communities,” said McMorris. “Broadband is a great equalizer and an invaluable asset: it provides small businesses with access, creates the ability to work from anywhere – not just at a city desk, gives students greater opportunities for education, provides a base for our first-responder to utilize in case of an emergency, and will play an integral part in telehealth so someone in Tonasket can have access to the best doctors in Spokane and Seattle. Expanding service also has the added benefit of increasing competition, which will ultimately drive down prices and improve service.”
The loan is part of the USDA Rural Development Telecommunications Broadband Program. The loan will be provided to CTURN Corporation, based in Salem, Oregon, and will be used to construct a fixed wireless broadband network.
The Broadband loan program authorizes USDA Rural Development to make loans to deploy broadband service to communities with a population of 20,000 or less, with the first priority going to communities without broadband service. The loans are low interest and allow for the technology to be market driven. Since the program was first established in 2003, USDA has provided 63 loans totaling almost $1.1 billion. For more information, visit USDA’s website.