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U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., was at Radium Springs Community Center Oct. 12, joining local officials and representatives from Ethos Broadband Inc., a division of Sacred Wind Communications, to announce a $9.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide high-speed internet access for New Mexicans in rural northern Doña Ana County, from Radium Springs to Salem, Lujan’s office said in a news release.
The grant comes from USDA’s ReConnect Loan and Grant Program, which has invested $1.67 billion to create or improve high-speed internet access for rural customers across 31 states and territories, the news release said.
Luján introduced legislation last year to streamline and bolster USDA’s rural development broadband programs and ensure their funding is being targeted to rural areas that need it the most, his office said.
“I’ve said it before and I‘ll say it again – New Mexicans know the difference between fast internet, slow internet and no internet,” Lujan said. “From connecting to loved ones, classmates or even their doctor, a reliable internet connection is a necessity. This federal investment is going to bring us one step closer to our goal of 100 percent connectivity and I look forward to working together to continue connecting more New Mexicans throughout our state.”
“We are thankful to the USDA for the award of the Reconnect 4 grant and are excited to be working with Ethos Broadband on this effort,” Doña Ana County Commissioner Manuel Sanchez said. “As Doña Ana County works to improve infrastructure across the county, the expansion of broadband has been an effort we have worked on for several years. The importance of broadband and the lack of availability was on full display during the pandemic. I look forward to what this can bring to some of the most rural areas of the County including in the areas of healthcare, education, and employment.”
“Ethos is honored to work with Doña Ana County and USDA to expand broadband connectivity across Northern Doña Ana County,” said Neo Nicolaou, senior vice president and COO of Sacred Wind and Commnet Broadband. “Our mission is to connect underserved communities with high-speed broadband to improve public safety, economic development, and quality of life. Broadband is the enabler that levels the playing field for those that live in rural communities across America.”