Washington DC – U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) announced today that the U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded Oregon $8.3 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to bring broadband infrastructure to Lane, Douglas and Klamath counties and the Klamath Tribal region. The Broadband Infrastructure award was awarded to the Lane Council of Governments to enhance an existing fiber-optic backbone and deploy 124 miles of fiber-optic network to deliver broadband capabilities in Southern Oregon.
“These ARRA funds will enhance many important business and community services for Southern Oregon and improve the vital link to the Internet for thousands of local consumers,” said Merkley. “This award will strengthen our communities by enhancing education, health care delivery, job training and government services.”
“Internet access and improved communication have become the backbone of economic development, job growth and access to vital information about health care, education and public safety,” Wyden said. “This project means that 104,000 households and 6,000 businesses in rural areas of Lane, Klamath and Douglas counties – and the Klamath Tribal areas – will have the broadband capabilities they need to give them the opportunity to grow, prosper and learn.”
The ARRA funds were awarded to the Lane Council of Governments who, in partnership with the Regional Fiber Consortium, will expand broadband access in a 16,000 square mile area, where most communities have populations of less than 20,000. The project will also provide critical broadband access to schools, medical facilities, and first responder police and fire stations as well as expand broadband Internet connectivity options for the Klamath Tribe, and improve Internet access for an estimated 104,000 households and 6,000 businesses.
The grant will fund the Regional Fiber Consortium Lighting the Fiber project, which is the culmination of ten years of work by local governments who had a vision of improving the quality of life of the three county area through joint action to bring broadband to the under-served areas of the region.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act appropriated $7.2 billion in broadband investments and directed the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service and the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved communities across the U.S., increase jobs, spur investments in technology and infrastructure, and provide long-term economic benefits.