Pioneer Connect is Awarded Another ReConnect Grant by the USDA To Deploy Fiber-to-the-Home to Over 1,600 Locations

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Pioneer Connect Receives $24,966,775 Grant to Provide Rural High-Speed Internet to Over 1,600 Underserved Homes in Benton, Lincoln and Lane counties

After a highly competitive process, Pioneer Connect of Philomath, OR has been awarded $24,966,775 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the 4th round of funding for the ReConnect program.

This ReConnect 4 grant will bring Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) to over 1,600 locations in Benton, Lincoln, and Lane counties. 168 miles of fiber of buried fiber, along with 13 miles of aerial will be constructed to provide increased speeds and enhanced reliability, eliminating many challenges faced by members of these communities.

“High-speed broadband drives economic growth, enabling rural communities to prosper and ensuring rural residents continue to have the freedom to work and live where they choose,” said James Rennard, Pioneer Connects General Manager. He added, “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 provide our members with the broadband speeds they want throughout the 1,300 square miles we serve for generations to come.”

“Rural Oregonians know that access to reliable internet is about more than just connection. Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and community partners like Pioneer Connect, a single mom can finish her college degree,” said Margi Hoffmann, State Director for USDA Rural Development in Oregon. “A small business owner will reach new customers. Communities will be able to expand their economies from the bottom up and the middle out so that all Americans have a chance to thrive.”

Pioneer will have five years to complete this project once the final documentation is completed and funds are made available.

Not only will the fiber network ensure these communities have ample bandwidth for today, but it will also power the community’s growth and development for decades to come. A fiber network levels the playing field for small, rural communities to compete with larger, urban areas for business growth, expansion, and economic development. “None of this would be possible without the dedication and commitment Pioneer’s employees have serving to our members,” said Jim Rennard. “They always go the extra mile and are here for you whenever you need them.”

Pioneer Connects’ long-term strategic plan is to replace its copper network with FTTH across its 1,300 square-mile serving area. Grants like ReConnect 4 help expedite the delivery of fiber to rural communities. In the last two years, Pioneer has completed two other significant FTTH projects bringing symmetrical speeds up to 1 GIG to more than 4,300 homes and businesses in Philomath, OR and Waldport, OR.

According to Brad Madison, the Director of Network Operations, “Our commitment to enhancing reliable and affordable high-speed broadband remains unwavering. This commitment is vital for the prosperity of rural areas.” He emphasized the positive impact of fiber-optic technology on economic resilience, healthcare, and education. “These grants are truly exciting, as they help Pioneer bring us closer to our goal of providing fast internet access to all the members and communities that want and need fiber-optic connectivity.”

Members of the Cooperative and community residents who are part of this project will receive a letter or email announcing the USDA grant along with information about the project. Community members can also go to pioneer.net/fiber to learn more about fiber, register their interest and stay up to date on the progress.

With symmetrical speeds up to 1 GIG, residents will experience faster downloads, enhanced video streaming, real-time gaming, and virtually unlimited speeds for work-from-home, telehealth, and distance learning. FTTH, coupled with Pioneer’s state-of-the-art whole-home Wi-Fi 6 product, Premium Wi-Fi, will provide uninterrupted bandwidth in homes and businesses. Enabling a seamless experience for multiple devices simultaneously. FTTH will provide residents and businesses with all the capacity they need to grow as new technology develops.

Rennard and Madison both expressed their gratitude to the residents of these communities who provided valuable information for the grant application.

This marks the fourth grant the Cooperative has received for its FTTH projects.

The benefits of fiber technology include:

• Provides speeds allowing users to download content at up to 1,000 megabits (1 GIG) per second.
• Provides enough speed to work from home, take advantage of telehealth services, participate fully in distance learning, and simultaneously download music and movies while gaming and streaming HD and 4K content, with virtually no lag time.
• Has positive impacts on education, business, and future economic development.
• Increases property values
• Can easily handle the current and future demands of numerous connected devices in homes and businesses.

About Pioneer Connect
Pioneer Connect is a broadband partner providing services to connect your life—delivering phone, internet, and more to our neighbors from the Willamette Valley to the Pacific Ocean. For 72 years, Pioneer has gone the extra mile to make sure each member of our 1,300 square mile service area has the technology they need; providing services to rural homes, businesses, K-12 schools and colleges. Pioneer Connect has built a 700-mile fiber optic network providing the communities with essential phone services and the latest in fast and reliable internet technology. We are proud to be Pioneers for you, our community.