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USDA Funds to Expand Broadband in North Dakota, Montana

An $18.5 million federal grant has been awarded to Reservation Telephone Cooperative to expand high-speed Internet access to homes and businesses in western North Dakota and part of eastern Montana.

(TNS) — Parshall-based Reservation Telephone Cooperative is getting an $18.5 million federal grant to expand high-speed Internet access in western North Dakota and part of eastern Montana.

The grant is part of $401 million being doled out in 11 states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development agency. More funding is to be announced later this summer through Biden administration efforts to invest in rural infrastructure, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Farmers, store owners, schoolchildren and people seeking telehealth medical checkups will benefit from the ReConnect and Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee programs, Vilsack said.

"Connectivity is critical to economic success in rural America," he said

Reservation Telephone Cooperative will use the grant money to connect 1,151 people, 67 businesses, four public schools and 91 farms in Richland and Wibaux counties in Montana, and in Dunn, McKenzie and McLean counties in North Dakota. The project also encompasses the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.

RTC also will make high-speed Internet more affordable by participating in the Federal Communications Commission's Affordable Connectivity Program. This will give eligible residents a discount of up to $30 per month.

"Reliable, affordable high-speed Internet fosters independence and gives people the freedom to live, work and learn regardless of age, income or location," Rural Development State Director Erin Oban said in a statement.

"There are still North Dakotans who lack basic access to the Internet," she added. " USDA Rural Development's ReConnect Program aims to partner with providers to expand, improve, and upgrade access to an essential and necessary service, ensuring that North Dakotans can be connected to one another and to the rest of the world no matter how rural or remote we may be."


The Affordable Connectivity Program is available throughout North Dakota, according to the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Access to health care takes on new meaning in a digital age, as we see the importance of broadband for rural and tribal communities to better access health care services and health information," Center Director Brad Gibbens said in a statement. "The Affordability Connectivity Program is a significant step in leveling the playing field in rural North Dakota."

In addition to the monthly discount, the program allows eligible households to receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to buy a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers if the households contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

For more information or to apply, go to

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