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      USDA Issues Funds to Improve Broadband in Rural Nebraska and Montana

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      Two rural telecommunications companies will receive funding to expand broadband services in rural Nebraska and Montana according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

      Hartington Telecommunications Co., Inc, will receive a 5.2 million loan to upgrade the telecommunications system for customers in Nebraska. The grant will be used to replace copper cable currently being used with Fiber-to-the-Home technology.

      The new system will require replacing rural drops with fiber cables as well as the installation of new optical interfaces at each subscriber location. Many of the digital loop carrier sites will either be retired or converted into optical nodes as well.

      Montana company InterBel Telephone Cooperative, Inc. willreceive a $20.8 million loan to complete a Fiber-to-the-Premises network tohelp meet future growth requirements.

      Vilsack says these grants will help to improve the nation's infrastructure by expanding broadband services to rural areas, giving those communities greater access to educational, health care, business and social services.

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