Rural Lovelock to get internet speeds thousands of times faster after $27M federal grant
A Nevada internet provider won a $27 million federal grant to bring high-speed internet to technologically underserved Lovelock, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Thursday in a swing through Reno.
Reno-based Uprise Fiber won the grant through the Biden administration’s ReConnect Loan and Grant Program, which aims to expand and improve internet access across the country, specifically to moderate- to low-income rural areas. The project is expected to begin in two to three months — after the environmental impact report is completed — and could take up to five years to complete, according to the company.
“Seventy-two percent of rural America has access to high-speed internet. And when you talk about persistently poor areas, the number is 63 percent,” Vilsack said.
In contrast, 99 percent of urban residents have high-speed internet access, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
“So there are … millions of Americans who are living, working and raising families in rural and remote areas that do not have access to the telemedicine and distance learning and the economic development opportunities and the public safety opportunities that other folks in this country have,” Vilsack added.
Uprise Fiber’s CEO, Sam Sanders, told reporters and government officials that the company would improve internet speeds from six megabits to 10,000 megabits in Lovelock, which sits along Interstate 80 and is about 90 miles northeast of Reno.
This will not only help the 1,700 or so citizens of Lovelock and Pershing County access telehealth, remote education and work, but it will also assist ambulance drivers,, police officers and travelers going through the known dead spot on I-80, said Lovelock Mayor Mike Giles.
“Many of us take it for granted just like water and air,” Giles said about internet connectivity. “It's life changing. And so this is a project that really is going to impact lives throughout Pershing County and Lovelock.”
Besides services such as health care and education that are essential to communities miles away from densely populated areas, Stacey Montooth, the executive director of the State of Nevada Indian Commission, said that internet access also plays a part in preserving culture.
"There's no better way to preserve language, no better way to speak Numa than to use the world wide web," Montooth said, referring to the benefits of having improved internet on the Lovelock Paiute Tribe’s land.
Vilsack said ReConnect is now completing round three of the program — meaning that it’s announcing the applicants who will be receiving funding.
“But this fall, we’re going to announce round four. And that’s an opportunity for all of those other communities that are learning about these projects now to say, ‘hey, maybe we should do this’,” Vilsack said.
According to the Governor's Office of Science, Innovation and Technology, or OSIT, almost 3 percent of Nevada’s population is without the FCC’s standard of 25/3 megabits per second broadband. That standard of 25/3 Mbps internet speed is enough for about a two-person household or five devices, according to the FCC.