UTPA research leads to USDA grant to expand broadband
Posted: 04/06/2010
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Valley Telephone Cooperative Inc., USDA Rural Development and The University of Texas-Pan American will host a press conference Monday, April 12, to announce Valley Telephone Cooperative has been selected to receive a $40 million loan and $38.5 million grant from the USDA for the construction of last-mile rural broadband infrastructure in the most rural communities of South Texas.

The University of Texas-Pan American was instrumental in conducting the research used to apply for the funding for this monumental initiative. With a USDA Rural Development grant, UTPA continues to facilitate regional rural economic development strategic planning in the rural communities of the Rio Grande Valley.

The press conference will take place at 11 a.m. at the International Trade and Technology Building - International Room. The announcement will be made by Victor Vasquez, USDA's deputy undersecretary for rural development.

"Broadband deployment is the foundation for rural development in South Texas," said Rene Montalvo, director of UTPA's Texas Rural Cooperative Center (TRCC). "TRCC is implementing a comprehensive, regional approach to rural development in South Texas and this rural-broadband project is our platform to work from."

The University intends to work closely with USDA Rural Development and Valley Telephone Cooperative to ensure the three-year broadband project positively impacts economic development in South Texas, Montalvo said.

"Strengthening rural communities in South Texas begins with providing the availability of broadband and results in providing employment opportunities to allow for future economic growth," said Paco Valentin, USDA Texas state director. "Valley Telephone Cooperative is investing in the development of broadband infrastructure in some of our un-served and underserved South Texas communities."

For almost 60 years, Valley Telephone Cooperative Inc. has provided a full range of telecommunications services to rural communities in South Texas. They were the first to deliver DSL Broadband service to 100 percent of their subscribers and also the first in South Texas to offer Fiber-to-the-Home.

The company continues to grow today with 17 exchanges covering approximately 7,300 square miles in 19 counties, while providing the same friendly and quality service it did 50 years ago.

"This project will fundamentally alter the technology landscape in South Texas and make it one of the most desirable locations in the country for business growth and new business relocations", stated Dave Osborn, VTCI general manager. "We already have good weather and a workforce with a strong work ethic - adding the fiber-optic broadband component will make us unique and highly desirable on a national scale."