Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced that two organizations have earned $50 million in federal loans and grants for high-speed rural internet projects in Grant County and beyond.

Oregonians need broadband access so all communities can have modern access to jobs, education and telehealth opportunities that depend on high-speed internet,” Wyden said, who has long championed expanding broadband access to rural and underserved areas, including pushing the Department of Commerce to fix out-of-date broadband maps so that 48,000 unserved locations in Oregon could receive federal broadband grants. “From homework to telehealth, connecting communities to highspeed internet is a central part of efforts to ensure access to services and build our economy by creating good-paying jobs in every corner of Oregon.”

“Reliable and affordable broadband has become more crucial than ever to the success of our workforce, students, and communities,”Merkley said. “Improving and investing in the foundational infrastructure needed for high-speed internet will help support the economy, education, and quality of life for folks in rural Oregon. I’ll continue working to keep Oregonians connected in every corner of the state.”

The funds will be distributed as follows:

  • A $24 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to Zayo group to support middle-mile infrastructure, which is the physical fiber optic infrastructure needed to enable internet connectivity. Communities connecting to Zayo fiber include Fort Rock, La Pine, Lakeview, Ione, Mayville, Mitchell, Paisley, Prineville, and Umatilla.
  • A USDA ReConnect loan of $15.4 million and a grant of $15.4 million to Oregon Telephone Corporation (doing business as Rally Networks) to support fiber deployment and affordability for Grant County residents.

“We are excited to partner with state and local governments in Oregon on this important infrastructure project,” said Bill Long, Chief Product Officer at Zayo. “There is a tremendous opportunity to expand affordable, reliable broadband access at the middle mile to communities in need across the state. We are grateful to be able to bring Zayo’s assets and expertise to bear, along with the generous resources from the NTIA, to deliver on these opportunities.”

“Rally Networks is excited to participate in the progression of needed broadband throughout the great state of Oregon,” said DeeDee Kluser, Vice-President of Finance at Oregon Telephone Company. “Rally Networks wants to thank our local, state and federal representatives for the help and support they have given this project contributing to its success. These monetary investments will serve our communities with the necessary tools that support rural Oregon, an artery of America’s values. They will serve multiple communities including Tygh Valley, areas of Grant County, and Wamic to list a few. These broadband builds will result in serving approximately 8,792 residences, 209 businesses, 548 farms, and 4 educational institutions. These services will prove a boon to these wonderful areas of Oregon and Rally Networks is grateful to be a part of such a necessary process.”