WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced a $6 million grant for high-speed broadband internet infrastructure in two of the state’s most rural counties, Grant and Wheeler.
The grant is among the first round awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Pilot Program– a $600 million program created in the 2018 federal spending bill.
“I fought to increase our nation’s broadband investment after hearing from folks in every corner of Oregon that they still don’t have access to high-speed internet—a fundamental need in today’s connected world,” Merkley said. “This access will improve the economy, education, and quality of life for folks across hundreds of miles of rural Oregon.” He is the top Democrat on the senate subcommittee that funds USDA.
Wyden said this investment linking Oregonians is a “must for rural communities to keep generating good jobs, ensuring access to quality tele-health, educating students and protecting residents.”
He continued, “I know firsthand from conversations in both counties at town halls this fall how crucial this connectivity is for these Oregonians and for people throughout our state. I am proud to have helped these communities earn this grant that can—and should be replicated—in every nook and cranny in Oregon. ”
The first new fiber route will be located northwest of John Day, and will connect the towns of Long Creek, Monument and Spray. The second route will start at the northern edge of the town of Seneca and continue to Canyon City, just south of John Day.
The expanded network will extend across a 242-square-mile area that includes 418 households, 22 businesses, 22 farms, 3 schools, and 2 fire stations. Nearly 650 new customers will get reliable access to high-speed internet services, with network speeds ranging from 30 megabits per second to 1 gigabyte per second.