South Slope receives $5.4 million award to expand rural broadband

South Slope Cooperative Communications, a telecommunications company based in North Liberty, has won a $5.4 million dollar award from the the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand broadband service in rural areas.

South Slope was awarded support through the ReConnect Program from the U.S Department of Agriculture. This program offers unique federal financing and funding options in the form of loans and grants to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America that don’t currently have sufficient access to broadband. South Slope’s funding will be in the form of a $2.7 million grant, while the other $2.7 million will be through an RUS loan.

The money will expand broadband services to an area including more than 760 households in Iowa and Johnson Counties. The funding is expected to bring fiber-optic service to 1,984 people, 26 businesses and 147 farms, according to the news release.

“The expense that goes into building fiber networks, especially in rural areas, is extremely high and is often cost prohibitive,” said South Slope CEO Chuck Deisbeck in an announcement. “But, in an effort to serve our members, we never stop looking for opportunities to apply for grants and assistance.”

Fiber optic technology will enable South Slope customers to access internet with speeds up to one Gigabit (1,000 Megabits per second), which is 50 times faster than the average residential internet connection. Faster and more reliable internet speeds enable customers to download content faster, stream 4K video effortlessly and connect multiple devices.

The USDA received 172 applications from the second round of grants and loans. 31 awards were given out.

Previous coverage

Expanding Broadband Access Across Iowa -Sept. 9, 2020