August 24, 2023

Wyden, Merkley Announce More than $25.7 Million to Oregon for Rural Broadband

Marion, Benton, Lane & Lincoln counties to benefit

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced that four Oregon counties will receive a combined $25.7 million from the USDA Rural Development’s ReConnect program to bring broadband to homes and businesses in the Mid-Valley and Central Coast.

“I will not rest until 100 percent of Oregonians get the broadband necessary to access jobs, education and telehealth,” said Wyden, who advocated for expanding rural broadband access by successfully pushing the Department of Commerce to fix out-of-date maps to include more than 48,000 additional unserved locations in Oregon. “Oregon deserves its fair share of federal broadband funding, which is why I’m gratified to see these funds go to unserved communities in the Mid-Valley and the Central Coast. High-speed internet is a central component to ensuring that Oregonians can access services and build our rural economies.”

“I’ve worked for years to increase access to broadband around Oregon—especially in more rural parts of the state—as we know reliable and affordable broadband is essential to the success of our workforce, students, and communities,” said Merkley. “These investments will help improve and expand critical access to high-speed internet supporting the economy, education, and quality of life for folks in the Mid-Valley and Central Coast communities.”

These Rural Development investments will be go to the Canby Telephone Association and the Pioneer Telephone Cooperative to deploy fiber broadband that will provide high-speed internet to 2,346 people, 56 businesses, 211 farms and one school in Benton, Lane, Lincoln and Marion counties. The awards are part of the $714 million in grants and loans to connect thousands of rural residents, farmers and business owners in 19 states, including Oregon, to reliable, affordable high-speed internet.

“Clackamas and Marion counties are working together with federal funds and industry partners to support our rural communities gaining access to reliable high-speed internet,” said Marion County Commissioner Kevin Cameron.

"High-speed broadband drives economic growth, ensuring rural communities have the freedom to work and live where they choose," said James Rennard, Pioneer Connect's General Manager. "The demand for high-speed broadband has become essential for telehealth, remote learning, home businesses and the work-from-home landscape. Extending fiber-optic infrastructure to rural areas is complex, coupled with the challenging landscapes and substantial costs. Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) ensures that our customers need not compromise on speed or quality. They won't have to share connections with neighbors or be concerned about external factors such as weather, trees, or topography, which can affect service with other technologies. This Reconnect 4 award, along with other grants Pioneer has been awarded, allows Pioneer to fulfill our members' broadband requirements throughout the 1,300 sq. miles we serve for generations to come.”