In the community

Broadband coming to underserved areas of Malheur County

A federal grant will push high-speed internet to more homes in remote areas of Malheur County, including out near Lake Owyhee. (The Enterprise/file)

Some of the most remote homes in Malheur County are going to get high-speed internet as part of a federally-funded effort to push broadband service into rural areas around the country.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture through its ReConnect program is awarding $12.8 million to Oregon-Idaho Utilities Inc. to expand broadband in Malheur County and parts of Nevada and Idaho. The agency announced the grant last week.

For Malheur County, that means an additional 150 miles of new cable will go in for areas around Lake Owyhee, Rockville, Jordan Valley and Rome.

Doug Musgrave, manager of the Nampa-based company, said the company is adding $4.8 million to the federal grant for the project. He said about one-third of the total $17.6 million will go to work in Malheur County.

“This grant will extend broadband to people who don’t have access to it or don’t have sufficient access,” Musgrave said.

He said 272 residents in Malheur County will benefit from the project, scheduled over the next five years.

Musgrave said the pandemic that closed schools and had people working remotely made expanding high-speed internet more important.

“All that happened because of Covid just illustrated the need in the area that this grant is going to cover,” Musgrave said.

Oregon-Idaho Utilities started service in 1990, acquiring telephone exchanges serving Adrian, Jordan Valley and other rural areas. It added Nevada territory in 1995.

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