Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced a total of $35,588,796 million in funding to deploy high-speed broadband internet infrastructure in Benton, Lane, Lincoln, and Polk counties. These awards are part of the round three investments through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ReConnect Program, which received new funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“I’ve worked for years to increase access to broadband around Oregon, and with the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, reliable and affordable broadband has become more crucial than ever to the success of our workforce, students, and communities,” said Merkley. “Improving and investing in access to high-speed internet will help support the economy, education, and quality of life for folks in Benton, Lane, Lincoln and Polk counties. I’ll continue doing all I can to secure the resources needed to keep Oregonians connected in every corner of the state.”
"Rural quality of life throughout Oregon demands high-speed Internet links that connect children to educational opportunities as well as doctors to their patients, and small businesses and farms to their customers,” Wyden said. “I’m gratified that the Oregon Coast and the Willamette Valley will benefit from these federal investments, and I’ll keep fighting to connect all of rural Oregon to quality Internet access that’s so crucial to modern commerce, telehealth and convenience.”
“High-speed broadband fosters economic development, allows rural communities to remain vibrant, and enables people to work and live wherever they choose,” said James Rennard, General Manager of Pioneer Connect. “Telehealth, remote learning, and changes in working arrangements all require broadband access. This project will make all this possible. Building fiber in rural areas is challenging due to the terrain and expense of infrastructure. Fiber is the gold-standard and enables Pioneer to meet our members’ broadband needs for decades to come. FTTH means our customers don’t have to make compromises on speed or quality, share a connection with their neighbors, or worry about things that impact service like weather, trees, or terrain with other technologies. This Reconnect 3 award allows us to begin building this gold-standard network for our members today.”
"Our mission at Hyak is to give the rural communities we serve on the Oregon coast a leg up when it comes to high speed internet. With help from the USDA's ReConnect program, Hyak is expanding our multi-gigabit fiber internet, making a long-term impact in our coastal communities, " said Robbie Wright, CEO of Hyak. "Supporting our rural communities with long term investments can only be accomplished with the effort of many, including our local employees and resources who assisted with our application, our elected officials who are helping to prioritize infrastructure investment at the state and federal level, and our local USDA field representatives."
Award recipients and amounts can be found below:
Pioneer Telephone Cooperative - $24,952,007 grant: This Rural Development investment will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 3,570 people, 558 farms and 72 businesses to high-speed internet in Benton, Lane, Lincoln, and Polk counties in Oregon. Pioneer Telephone Cooperative will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC's Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs.
Siuslaw Broadband, LLC - $10,636,789 loan: This Rural Development investment will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 1,407 people, 28 businesses, 21 farms and two educational facilities to high-speed internet in Lane County, Oregon.