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Oregon receiving over $25.7 million in rural broadband funding

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(The Center Square) – Four Oregon counties are getting over $25.7 million combined from the USDA Rural Development’s ReConnect program to expand broadband access in the Mid-Valley and Central Coast.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, applauded the announcement and said the entire state needs broadband access.

“I will not rest until 100 percent of Oregonians get the broadband necessary to access jobs, education, and telehealth,” Wyden said in a press release issued by his office. “Oregon deserves its fair share of federal broadband funding, which is why I’m gratified to see these funds go to unserved communities in the Mid-Valley and the Central Coast. High-speed internet is a central component to ensuring that Oregonians can access services and build our rural economies.”

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, concurred. He said broadband expansion will improve the quality of life in Oregon.

“I’ve worked for years to increase access to broadband around Oregon—especially in more rural parts of the state—as we know reliable and affordable broadband is essential to the success of our workforce, students, and communities,” Merkley said in the release. “These investments will help improve and expand critical access to high-speed internet supporting the economy, education, and quality of life for folks in the Mid-Valley and Central Coast communities.”

Canby Telephone Association and the Pioneer Telephone Cooperative will receive these Rural Development investments. They will use the funding to provide high-speed internet to 2,346 people, 56 businesses, 211 farms, and one school in Benton, Lane, Lincoln, and Marion counties.

The money comes from a $714 million grant program that will expand rural broadband access in 19 states, the release said.

“Clackamas and Marion counties are working together with federal funds and industry partners to support our rural communities gaining access to reliable high-speed internet,” Marion County Commissioner Kevin Cameron said in the release.

James Rennard, Pioneer Connect’s General Manager, said the funding will make it easier for Oregonians to live where they want.

“High-speed broadband drives economic growth, ensuring rural communities have the freedom to work and live where they choose,” Rennard said in the release. “The demand for high-speed broadband has become essential for telehealth, remote learning, home businesses, and the work-from-home landscape. Extending fiber-optic infrastructure to rural areas is complex, coupled with the challenging landscapes and substantial costs. Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) ensures that our customers need not compromise on speed or quality. They won’t have to share connections with neighbors or be concerned about external factors such as weather, trees, or topography, which can affect service with other technologies. This Reconnect 4 award, along with other grants Pioneer has been awarded, allows Pioneer to fulfill our members’ broadband requirements throughout the 1,300 sq. miles we serve for generations to come.”

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