Millions awarded for rural broadband in Harmony |

Millions awarded for rural broadband in Harmony

Talia Milavetz
Updated: January 17, 2020 05:46 PM
Created: January 17, 2020 03:31 PM

(ABC 6 News) - The Harmony Telephone Company received $5.4 million to connect hundreds of households to high-speed broadband.

For years, the company has been working to bring this service to the area.

"One of the challenges in bringing fiber-to-the-premises in a rural area is that the population density is much less. It takes a lot more miles of fiber to reach every customer, increasing the cost per subscriber making it cost-prohibitive,” said CEO of Harmony Telephone Company Jill Huffman.

But $5.4 million from the ReConnect program, made up of half grants and half loans, will allow the organization to connect 577 households, a health care center and a critical community facility to high-speed broadband.

"We're excited to see the investment in Harmony. Telecommunications, fiber internet, in particular, is really exciting and needed for a strong community. It's like having water and sewer and electricity in today's world,” said Community Development Coordinator for Harmony Chris Giesen.

It gives people access to fast uploads and downloads, video security capabilities and the choice to work from home. "I too would like to be able to work at home during inclement weather and during different circumstances. Having adequate broadband to access that VPN connection will make my life even better as well,” said Huffman.

Friday USDA Deputy Secretary, Stephen Censky announced the award at the Harmony Fire Station.

"Of the 21 million Americans all over the United States that don't have access to the internet, 80 percent of them are in rural America. Our goal at the USDA is to close that digital divide,” he said.

In 2018, congress provided $600 million for the first round of funding for projects like this.

The USDA invested $11 million in rural Minnesota and Iowa. Almost $400,000 was awarded to Osage Municipal Utilities. Congress recently approved funding for two more rounds of awards.

"The possibilities are endless. It'd be really cool to see ten years from now all of the cool things that are being made because of investments announced today,” said Giesen.

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