It was announced on Tuesday that Emery Telecommunications & Video Inc. will use a $6.3 million ReConnect grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network in rural Colorado. This project is one of many that Emery Telcom has undertaken to connect rural communities with broadband internet.
“The need for rural broadband has never been more apparent than it is now – as our nation manages the coronavirus national emergency. Access to telehealth services, remote learning for school children and remote business operations all require access to broadband,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “I am so proud of our rural communities who have been working day in and day out, just like they always do, producing the food and fiber America depends on. We need them more than ever during these trying times and expanding access to this critical infrastructure will help ensure rural America prospers for years to come.”
The network will connect 1,638 people, 91 farms, 52 businesses, three fire stations and two post offices to high-speed broadband internet in Dolores, San Miguel and Montezuma counties in Colorado.
“Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and I announced USDA is awarding $6.3 million to Emery Telcom to expand broadband service in Southwest Colorado, where the San Juan peaks are a photographer’s dream but a fiber builder’s nightmare,” said Senator Cory Gardner on Tuesday. “COVID-19 has laid bare the digital divide in many of our rural communities and it’s more important than ever to keep Coloradans connected to reliable broadband.”
The grant is part of $600 million provided by congress to the USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. “On Dec. 13, 2018, Secretary Perdue announced the rules of the program, called ‘ReConnect,’ including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America,” the USDA shared.
However, this is not Emery Telcom’s first project with USDA. “The latest ReConnect grant award that we received from USDA is a great compliment to our previous Dove Creek, Colo. award,” said Jared Anderson, Emery Telcom COO. “It expands the fiber Internet build to North Dolores County, including the town of Egnar. It also includes South Dolores County. The fiber route then heads East for 25 miles to the town of Lewis, which will also receive fiber to the home/business.”
Perdue, Gardner and Anderson all echoed the importance of connecting rural communities with broadband internet, especially for economic, health and educational purposes.
“Emery Telcom is excited to continue its fiber expansion into Southwestern Colorado to bring Gig Internet services to these areas,” Anderson said. “They are in great need, especially with the recent COVID situation necessitating work and school from home. Additionally, it will aid with economic development in the area, opening up new possibilities for these communities.”
Emery Telcom, based in Orangeville, serves Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan counties in addition to other wide-reaching projects. The company employs nearly 100 people and has brought fiber internet to 99% of homes in Carbon and Emery counties.