By Brock Johansen
CEO, Emery Telcom
The Trump Administration has loosened a lot of the regulations to provide relief to rural telecom companies that are trying to expand telecommunications infrastructure into rural America. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission), under Chairman Pai, has been sympathetic to the expense required to deploy infrastructure in rural America.
The Trump Administration, through the USDA Community Connect Program, pushed millions of dollars in funding toward rural telecommunications infrastructure in Utah. The Trump Administration also established the Rural Development Broadband Reconnect Program to push an additional $600 million in rural telecommunications infrastructure. Also, the Schools and Library Fund was expanded to allow for larger infrastructure projects.
Currently, the following projects are being constructed in Southeastern Utah and beyond:
- Fiber Deployment in Carbon and Emery Counties – Emery Telcom is completing a project to convert all customers in Carbon and Emery counties to fiber. This project has been highly dependent on the federal High Cost Loop Program and the Utah Universal Service Fund.
- USDA Community Connect Castle Valley – Emery Telcom is working with the USDA to bring fiber-to-the-home to the residents in Castle Valley.
- USDA Community Connect La Sal – Emery Telcom is working with the USDA to bring fiber-to-the-home to La Sal, Wilson Arch and the surrounding area.
- USDA Community Connect Mexican Hat – Emery Telcom is working with the USDA to bring fiber-to-the-home to the communities of Mexican Hat and Halchita.
- USDA Reconnect Monticello/Dove Creek – Emery Telcom is working with the USDA to bring fiber-to-the-home to the residents east of Monticello and the town of Dove Creek, Colorado.
- USDA Reconnect Lewis and Egnar – Emery Telcom is working with the USDA to bring fiber-to-the-home to the residents of Lewis and Egnar in Colorado.
- FCC Schools & Library Fund Montezuma Creek – Emery Telcom is working with the Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN) to bring fiber to the White Mesa, Bluff and Montezuma Creek.
- FCC Schools & Library Fund monument Valley and Navajo Mountain – Emery Telcom is working with the UETN to bring fiber to Monument Valley and Navajo Mountain.
- I-70 Denver – Emery Telcom is working with the Utah Department of Transportation, the Colorado Department of Transportation and other private partnerships to install a new route from Denver to Salt Lake. Some portions are being funded through CARES Act Funding.
Emery Telcom has had the pleasure of working with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on some of these projects. Chad Rupe, the Administrator for the Rural Utilities Service, has visited Utah to monitor the progress of the USDA projects.
With the large amounts of federal and tribal land associated with these fiber builds, Emery Telcom has worked with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Forest Service for permitting. The relationship with both organizations has developed into a partnership. In fact, Emery Telcom has worked with the BLM in installing new campgrounds and trails.
In particular, Chris Conrad, the Price Office Field Manager, has been very supportive and the Emery County Trails Committee has been amazing. We appreciate this partnership with federal and local groups to continue to expand broadband in rural America. This infrastructure will benefit Southeastern Utah for years to come.