NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced on Tuesday that the United States Department of Agriculture is investing $23 million in New Mexico to provide broadband internet service in rural areas. These investments are a part of the USDA’s ReConnect Pilot Program and are expected to provide connectivity to over 2,200 households in New Mexico.

The Pueblo of Acoma will use a $942,955 grant to help provide wireless broadband. The area currently lacks adequate access to broadband service. This investment will help to support long-term economic development as well as job opportunities in the area that includes 771 households that are spread over 22-square miles in Cibola County.

Penasco Valley Telephone Cooperative Inc. will receive a grant of $3.1 million to station a fiber broadband network. This service area includes 659 households over 363-square miels in Lincoln, Otero, Chaves, and Eddy Counties.

A $19.2 million grant will be used by E.N.M.R. Telephone Cooperative to build a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network that will serve farms, businesses, and community facilities that includes 789 households and three community facilities that are spread over 13 counties and 4,292-square miles.

On Tuesday, Sacred Wind Communications also announced they are providing free educational WiFi hotspots on the Navajo Nations to increase internet access for students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Catherine Nicolaou, External Affairs and Marketing Manager at Sacred Wind Communications says the WiFi hotspots are just a bandage for now. She says it has brought light that many individuals living in the Navajo Nation do not have access to WiFi or the internet.