Wyden, Merkley: USDA Investing More Than $20 Million in High-Speed Internet in Three Rural Oregon Counties

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced an investment in Eastern Oregon from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development totaling about $20.5 million to support high-speed internet in Baker, Grant and Malheur counties.

“Quality of life in rural Oregon requires quality Internet connections that link children reliably and quickly to educational opportunities as well as small businesses and farms to their customers,” Wyden said. “I’m gratified that Baker, Grant and Malheur counties will benefit from this federal investment, and I’ll keep battling to ensure all of rural Oregon gets the topnotch Internet access that’s so vital to everyday commerce and convenience.”

“I’ve been fighting for years to bring broadband to rural Oregon, and with the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, access to reliable, affordable broadband has become more crucial than ever to the success of our workforce, students, and communities,” said Senator Merkley. “Improving and investing in access to high-speed internet—a fundamental need in today’s connected world—will improve the economy, education, and quality of life for folks in Baker, Grant, and Malheur counties. I am pleased for these communities on winning this critical grant, and will continue to work to secure the means and resources needed so all of Oregon is connected.”

The $10.26 million loan and $10.26 million grant from USDA Rural Development to Oregon Telephone Corporation will connect an estimated 1,163 Oregonians, 41 businesses, 70 farms and four educational facilities in the three rural counties.

“We have had plans to build out to these remote, rural communities, and with the programs offered by USDA through the Rural Utility Service we are able to greatly accelerate our buildout timelines,” said Dee Dee Kluser, General Manager for Oregon Telephone Corporation. “We look forward to providing a reliable, robust fiber service to customers in small communities including Juntura, Brogan, Dayville and Unity as well as the outlying area between Mt Vernon and Dayville. We know that fiber connectivity greatly improves the standard of living, and opens up lots of new doors and opportunities for people living here.”

A web version of this release is here.