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NM Delegation Hails $165 million Grant Funding to Expand Rural Broadband Access

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), along with U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.), hailed the announcement that 18 cable companies, satellite businesses, electrical cooperatives, and wireless providers in New Mexico have won nearly $165 million from the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction. The utilities received the funding for a 10-year period to provide broadband access in 64,170 locations in New Mexico.

The FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction aims to close the digital divide in unserved areas and ensure high quality broadband connectivity in rural communities. The program requires providers to meet periodic buildout requirements that will require them to reach all assigned locations by the end of the sixth year of funding, while incentivizing them to build out to all locations as fast as possible.

“This groundbreaking funding will connect rural communities in New Mexico to high-quality broadband services,” said Udall, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Broadband Caucus. “I have fought to increase resources to connect rural and Tribal communities with the high-speed internet essential to the modern economy throughout my career in Congress. Too many New Mexico communities have been left on the wrong side of the digital divide. And I was proud to host informational webinars for local providers and governments in New Mexico to make sure every eligible company could win the competitive funding they need. This funding represents a critical step forward to bridge the digital divide in tens of thousands of locations in New Mexico that will connect schools, hospitals, and businesses in rural communities like never before.”

"The challenges over this last year in accessing virtual learning, online economic opportunities, and telehealth services have only reinforced the importance of bringing high-speed broadband service to all of our communities,” said Heinrich. “That’s why I am proud to welcome this important federal funding to bring internet service to rural and Tribal communities all across New Mexico. We must do everything we can to make sure broadband service is available to every single New Mexican.”

“In New Mexico, we know the difference between fast internet, slow internet, and no internet. As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I’ve been fighting for broadband investments to bridge the digital divide across rural and Tribal communities in New Mexico,” said Luján. “Broadband access is crucial for the success of our students, entrepreneurs, and small businesses, and I will continue working to connect our communities to high-speed broadband.”

“All communities across New Mexico have a right to high-quality broadband internet, especially in the midst of a global pandemic and recession. Funding like this is key to ensuring access to telehealth, economic and educational opportunities in rural communities. It’s heartbreaking to see children huddling around a wi-fi hotspot to get their homework done – I know what that’s like. My daughter and I would park at Barnes and Noble and do our homework in the car together because we couldn’t afford the internet. It shouldn’t be this way. After writing and encouraging the FCC to expand access, I’m glad they approved  this funding for underserved areas. I will continue to fight for broadband internet for all New Mexicans,” said Haaland.

“Closing the digital divide is one of the most urgent issues facing New Mexico. As we continue to fight the COVID-19 crisis, good, reliable internet is essential to helping families access lifesaving resources, connecting healthcare providers to patients, allowing students to continue their education, and keeping our small businesses afloat,” said Torres Small. “I’ve worked closely with the FCC to show firsthand the need for improved connectivity in rural New Mexico. This cutting-edge program will help providers quickly build key broadband infrastructure so schools, healthcare providers, businesses, and families stay connected at a time they need it the most.”

A breakdown of the $165,209,718 in grant funding is below: 

4-Corners Consortium New Mexico - $2,598,030

AMG Technology Investment Group New Mexico LLC - $75,554

CCO Holdings, LLC - $11,217

CenturyLink, Inc.- $2,038,002

City of Farmington -$ 3,179,884

Commnet Wireless, LLC  - $ 424,184

Continental Divide Electric Cooperative - $38,004,786

Enduring Internet - $11,880

FiberLight, LLC - $246,737

NMSURF, Inc. - $26,964.00

Plateau Telecommunications - $3,150

PVT NetWorks, Inc. - $12,039

Resound Networks, LLC -$59,171,497

Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium - $18,102,076

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. - $25,635,954

Windstream Services LLC, - $15,516,006

Wisper-CABO 904 Consortium - $125,532

Yucca Telecommunications Systems,  Inc.- $26,221