Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Plateau receives high-speed internet grant

 

May 13, 2020



The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service last week awarded a $19.2 million Reconnect grant to Clovis-based Eastern New Mexico Rural Telephone Co-op, doing business as Plateau, to bring high-speed internet to more rural areas.

This grant will fund the construction of a high-capacity fiber, broadband infrastructure project to serve rural areas where households are without sufficient access to such a service, according to a news release from Plateau. Once complete, all members of the cooperative will have access to broadband.

The 759-mile project will ensure residents within the project area will have access to the same broadband services found in urban markets. As part of the conditions of the award, the cooperative has five years to complete the project and must provide a $6.4 million match.

“The RUS Reconnect grant money is an investment in the quality of life for our cooperative members,” Plateau CEO David Robinson said. “As we’ve seen through the COVID-19 response, access to broadband has never been more important than it is today. It can be the key to education, health care and employment. We are proud to be able to provide broadband to 90% of our cooperative members today. Thanks to the RUS Reconnect grant, we will be able to provide broadband to the remaining 10%.”

New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said the investment also would address life safety matters.

“Many of our state’s farmers and ranchers reside and work in rural areas, and it’s extremely important that they have access to necessary resources for modern communication, as well as for conducting business,” Witte said. “The same goes for consumers in rural areas. It’s vital that we work on getting all New Mexicans access to communication needed for everyday functionality. Broadband access will also help address life safety matters, such as providing telemedicine to our most rural areas where healthcare is often many miles away.”

The money, which largely went to Plateau, is part of a $23 million New Mexico allocation to three recipients.

Penasco Valley Telephone Cooperative received a $3.1 million grant to cover a fiber network over 363 square miles in four counties, while Pueblo of Acoma received a $943,000 grant to upgrade wireless broadband services throughout Cibola County.

 
 

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